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The Death and Life of Bobby Z: A Novel
Synopses & Reviews
When Tim Kearney draws a license plate across the throat of a Hell's Angel, he's pretty much a dead man. It's his third crime and, according to California law, that gives him "life without the possibility of parole." Killing a Hell's Angel also makes him a dead man on any prison yard in California. That's when the DEA makes Kearney an offer: impersonate the late, legendary dope smuggler Bobby Z so that the agency can trade him to Don Huertero — northern Mexico's drug kingpin — for a captured DEA agent. Tim Kearney bears an uncanny resemblance to Bobby Z, and, with some training, he might be able to pass.
Or not. But, really, what choice does he have?
So, he's off to a compound in the middle of a desert that's been designed by Huertero's number-two man to look like the Arab fort in his favorite movie, Beau Jeste ("The Santa Fe thing had been done to death.") Kearney's surprised when he meets Bobby Z's old flame, Elizabeth, who was never mentioned in his training, and her son, who she claims belongs to him. It's a short vacation by the pool before Kearney's on the run from drug lords, bikers, Indians, and cops ... and the kid's along for the ride. Some of the pursuers want Bobby Z, and some want the considerably less legendary Tim K. Whether he pulls it off, whether he can keep the kid and the girl and his life, makes for a hilarious, fast-paced, and truly touching novel.
About the Author
Think you've had some interesting jobs? You haven't read Don Winslow's bio.
Don Winslow was born in New York City on Halloween night, 1953. Go figure. His father was a career Marine and Navy NCO, so he hit most of the ports on the East Coast by the time he was about six. Don grew up in Warwick, just outside of Providence and then in South Kingstown. He spent some time as an actor as a kid, at Theatre-by-the-Sea in RI, and doing radio commercials. Don always knew he did not want to be an actor but the experience later helped him bluff himself into a job in college, directing a theater company for the Ford Foundation.
Don went to college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, majoring first in journalism (even as a student he had the crime beat) and then in African History. He went to South Africa in his junior year and worked as a researcher at the University of Cape Town and as a free lance newspaper reporter. His other role was to smuggle in money that had been raised in the States for an organization called TEACH, which helped build and equip classrooms in Soweto. The funds had been banned by the government, so Don was eventually arrested and asked to leave. He bummed around southern Africa for a few months, then headed home via Nairobi.
After college, Don continued directing the Historical Theatre Company for two more years, then moved to Beyond Hope, Idaho, lived in an isolated cabin and worked herding cattle, riding fence, and delivering salad dressing (what a man) to towns in Montana and eastern Washington.
From there he moved to New York City and spent three years managing movie theaters. After turning in figures that implicated management in a theft scheme, he got canned and spent the next six months unemployed. Soon a friend took over a string of legit movie theaters in Times Square and hired Don to go undercover to break up the organized theft. After that assignment, he stayed with the detective agency and worked various gigs in London and Amsterdam.
Later, Don did a stint for the Institute for International Studies as a mock terrorist, raising, training, and leading a terrorist group in simulated hostage exchanges involving the Institute, the State Department, law enforcement and the media. Every once in a while he notes, he'll see a diplomat on CNN and think, "I kidnapped him."
Returning to grad school, Don received his MA in Military History. He is an expert on "The Use of Indigenous Troops in Counter-Insurgency Warfare." He was still doing freelance PI work and was supposed to go into the foreign service when he joined a safari firm instead and spent the next five years leading, planning, and selling safaris in Kenya and China.
He got engaged on a beach in Kenya to Jean, his wife, and then took a slightly more sedentary job designing educational programs overseas for American high school students. Don and Jean had their son Thomas in 1989. Sick of travel, Don joined Forensic Anthropology, Inc. as an analyst doing work with witnesses in arson and fraud trials. The company disbanded a year later and he went free lance.
Don is still doing PI work, helping witnesses prepare for testimony, consulting on investigations, working with law firms, etc. He was working on a case when he wrote The Death and Life of Bobby Z, so most of it was composed on the Metrolink, the commuter train between San Juan Capistrano and downtown LA. A Hockey fan and an avid if inept trout fisherman, he lives with his wife Jean and son Thomas in Dana Point, CA and Riverton, CT.
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