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  • A Cool Breeze on the Underground

  • Written by: Don Winslow
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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A Cool Breeze on the Underground cover art

A Cool Breeze on the Underground

Written by: Don Winslow
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
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Publisher's Summary

“One of America’s greatest storytellers.” (Stephen King)   

Neal Carey is not your usual private eye. A graduate student at Columbia University, he grew up on the streets of New York, usually on the wrong side of the law. Then he met a PI who introduced him to the Bank, an exclusive institution with a sideline in keeping its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. They pay Neal’s college tuition, and Neal gets an education that can’t be found in any textbook, from learning how to trail a suspect to mastering the proper way to search a room. 

Now it’s payback time. The Bank wants Neal to put his skills to work in finding Allie Chase, the rebellious teenage daughter of a prominent senator. The problem is that she’s gone underground in the London punk scene. To get her back, Neal has to follow her into a violent netherworld where drugs run rampant and rage is the name of the game.  

©1991 Don Winslow (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"A fresh voice, immensely likeable....Winslow shows he's got what it takes to hook a reader....Where he goes next with Neal is anyone's guess, but it's bound to be a great ride." (Mystery Scene)
"A flair for language, quick wit, and detail complete a winning first novel." (Library Journal)
"Winslow keeps his plot moving quickly despite many twists and turns." (Pittsburgh Press)

What listeners say about A Cool Breeze on the Underground

Average Customer Ratings
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thoroughly enjoyed, look forward to the rest

I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book. The author does a good job of progressing the story without skipping over too many details of life's minutiae.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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My First Winslow Read

Loved it, and looking forward to more. Great story and excellent performance. Well done, guvner!

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Inappropriately Tongue-In-Cheek

The setting, characters, and events in this "Gumshoe" story are uncomfortably gritty, dark, and depressing. Don Winslow's world is full of filthy cracked windows, stained furniture, seedy criminals, drug addicted prostitutes, and violent/cruel/selfish horrible people. Despite the obvious efforts to paint an ugly picture of reality, however, Winslow writes with a strangely jocular tone. Characters engage in playful banter and communicate with sardonic wit while learning how to rob houses, beat pimps nearly to death, inject heroin, and engage in incest.. as though that stuff is humorously routine.

The discordance is frankly bizarre.

The plot itself is moderately interesting (finding and recapturing a Politician's daughter who ran away to the London Punk Scene), the protagonist (Thief/College student/PI Neal Carey) is atypical & intriguing, the dialogue is passably well-written, and the pacing of the story is commendable.. but I ended up with so little respect for the characters that it was difficult even to care about the missing teenager at the center of the case [Winslow writes these legitimate dirtbags (the entire dramatis personae) as though they're everyday neighbors for some reason].

I definitely got an unfavorable impression from 'A Cool Breeze on The Underground'.. and sadly the narration contributed. The reader for this audiobook - Joe Barrett - is unspectacular at best (although it would be interesting to hear what he could do with better material). His diction, timbre, and cadence are fine, but his lighthearted reading tone matches the jarring "this is normal" narrative. His voice-acting is acceptable (affecting only a couple of accents, for instance), but he sounds like he's reading a book open on his lap. Barrett is professional but he's obviously collecting a paycheque here.

This audiobook was offered for free as part of the 'Plus' catalogue and that's appropriate. It's not *horrible*, but this odd 4/10 star detective story doesn't merit a Credit. Keep browsing.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Best reader, ever!

I loved the story right up to the end. Found the ending to be ok but not as interesting as the story itself. I loved the characters. I would listen to this reader reading the phone book...amazing voice and perfect intonation throughout. I usually find passages or lines in a book that don't sound right. This reader.....not once. Don Winslow books are my favourites and he never fails to secure the best readers for them. I am starting my next one today...THE FORCE.

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