Don Winslows brash 2010 novel Savages moved this talented author from a cult-like status to the mainstream. With director Oliver Stones film version of Savages now in theaters, Winslow returns to his three main characters independent marijuana millionaires Ben and Chon and their mutual girlfriend, Ophelia.
But instead of a sequel, Winslows The Kings of Cool offers a prequel, delving into the threesomes eccentric family history, showing how they settled into a happy, almost normal, menage a trois.
The Kings of Cool smoothly moves from 2005, when Ben, Chon and Ophelia were just settling in, then back to 1967, their parents time, when several independent, nonviolent drug dealers were setting up a business called the Association. The Kings of Cool also highlights the Associations activities through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
The past isnt the past, Winslow writes. Its always with us. In our history. Our minds, our blood.
Family history plays an important part in The Kings of Cool from Chons fractious relationship with his father, John McAlister, a roofer turned drug kingpin, to Bens parents, Stan and Diane Leonard, former bookstore owners turned psychotherapists. Winslow also shows the personal history of Ophelias much-married mother and Ophelias obsessive search for her father. The Kings of Cool chronicles how Elena Sanchez changed from devoted mother and wife to a ruthless leader of a drug cartel, recruiting former cop Lado as her henchman. And upstanding DEA agent Dennis Cain is seduced to the dark side by a home improvement project and the thrill of granite counters.
Winslow has always been an inventive writer, and a prime of example of his talents is California Fire and Life, published in 1999. The Kings of Cool reinforces just how cool Winslow is.