What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include The Force, a thriller about a corrupt NYPD cop.
The Force by Don Winslow; William Morrow, 479 pp.; fiction
Don Winslow’s new crime novel is a riveting ride-along with the Manhattan North Special Task Force, an elite NYPD unit commissioned to battle drugs, guns and gangs in upper Manhattan’s mean streets and projects.
In charge is veteran NYPD Detective Sgt. Denny Malone, a larger-than-life hero who started as a flatfoot with a gun and nightstick. Now he’s 38, a smart, hardened cop: “The King of Manhattan North.” He and his crack team’s street cred: tough, ruthless and fair.
So how does this epic tale begin with Malone in federal lockup? How good cops end up dirty is the compelling story Winslow tells through plot-building flashbacks detailing months of the Task Force’s shakedowns, busts, heroics and criminal behavior.
What sends the scales of justice crashing down on Malone is the night he and his partners raid a Harlem heroin mill, execute the drug lord, pocket $4 million and smuggle 20 kilos. Retirement and kids’ college money are important, but that crossed the line big time.
USA TODAY says **** out of four stars. “Intoxicating… sweeping, thoroughly researched.”
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein; Harper Wave, 328 pp.; non-fiction
Silverstein’s memoir celebrates the friends who gathered ’round as her transplanted heart failed after 26 years.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Seamlessly knits several important issues into one compelling package.”
Defectors by Joseph Kanon; Atria, 290 pp.; fiction
Simon Weeks arrives in Moscow to edit his brother Frank’s memoirs; Frank Weeks betrayed the CIA to the Soviet Union in 1949. Can he be trusted now?
USA TODAY says *** stars. “Smooth, tense… Kanon excels in his portrayal of British and American spies.”
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; Random House, 382 pp.; fiction
Jende and Neni Jonga, recent arrivals from Limbe, Cameroon living in a roach-infested apartment in Harlem, are caught in the tumult of the 2008 financial crisis; the latest pick of Oprah’s Book Club.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Even as Behold the Dreamers takes some dark, vicious turns, it never feels cheaply cynical, grounded as it is in the problems of well-imagined characters who try, through whatever means possible, to protect their families and better their lives.”