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Summary

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 Arabian 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 the son 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.

©1997 Don Winslow (P)1997 Random House Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.

Critic reviews

"Winslow juggles black humor, excellent dialog, and numerous plot twists with the ease of an accomplished veteran." (Library Journal)
"Darrell Larson is absolutely terrific....Larson's portrayal of drug world characters is full of sarcasm, wit and clever humor." (AudioFile)
"For all the nasty stuff that Mr. Winslow throws at Bobby/Tim, he maintains the virtue of a comic-book superhero...playing an exciting game of adventure that is good, clean, mindless fun." (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mick
  • 19-11-12

Abridged Too Far

This was potentially an excellent read. The story is interesting, the author has form. Unfortunately, the book has been abridged so far that it reads like a screenplay and jumps all over the place.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bill Beaulac
  • 02-04-17

Abridged version does Winslow's work NO justice

Having thoroughly enjoyed several of Don Winslow's other audiobooks, I figured I would give the The Death and Life of Bobby Z a shot. I did realize I was buying and abridged version of the book; what I did not realize is what an injustice the abridgement does to the story. Rather than the detailed and well-spun tales of previous Winslow books I listened to, this one served up little more than chopped up scenes with varying degrees of connectivity.
I was left wishing that Audible has a full version I could purchase, instead. No such luck. I am thankful (and I am certain Winslow would be as well) that this was not my first purchase of one of this author's books because, if it were, I doubt that I would have ever sought out another. To make matters worse, the narration did absolutely nothing to bring any value to the time I invested in listening to this version of The Death and Life of Bobby Z.

My recommendation; do not waste your time, credit, money on an abridged version . . . at least not this particular book. I'll chalk it up to being a lesson learned. That being said, I would not let this abridged version taint my enjoyment of Winslow's other books.

I hope you find this review helpful in making your reading and listening choices easier.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gene
  • 23-02-18

Just what I was looking for.

This was the right listen at the right time, lively, very well written and with a humorous, lighthearted flair interwoven with the action and mystery.

The book is short, but a great introduction to what I believe will be a new favorite author and narrator.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kenerator
  • 19-02-18

Don Winslow at full speed fun

A delightful and creative short story, long on unlikely good fortune, short on realism but who cares. It really shows Mr. Winslow’s virtuosity against ‘Power of the Dog’ and other of his deep novels, all of which are a pleasure to read.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Vlad Rybicka
  • 06-02-17

This's my third book....

...from Don Winslow. Compare to his the latest and the best book "The Cartel ", it's a lighter reading. However, it doesn't lack Don Winslow writing mastery. The plot is a little bit predictable, but I have enjoyed it very much. The best narrator of Don Winslow's books is definitely Ray Porter. I understand the theme of the "Z" novel is situated in the surfing community and that's why Don chose the younger narrator. Overall the book is a good reading.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Richard R
  • 05-02-17

Abridged

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The story seems pretty good, but I bought this without realizing it's abridged, which I hate. My bad.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rashanii
  • 09-09-16

The guy who is reading this story is awful

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A different narrator would've been great. This guy is horrid.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Death and Life of Bobby Z?

Where Bobby and the Kid take on all of the guys at the split rock.

What didn’t you like about Darrell Larson’s performance?

He was just bad. Poor reading, errors throughout, no emotion. He didn't bring anything to the story, but he took a ton away from it. Never will order a book narrated by him again.

What character would you cut from The Death and Life of Bobby Z?

Darrell Larson.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jon
  • 15-06-07

Disappointing

The story is as painfully predictable as a tv movie. The style is what I call present tense pitch; the sort of thing you would expect a producer to narrate to a tv movie executive. The characters are unbelievable and stereotypical. The main character is a three time loser who also happens to be a US Marine hero. Those skills learned in the Corps sure help him subdue the bad guys, who are also predictable and stereotypical. The narration is good, though. And it is brief. The problem is that this book attempts to be so hip that it forgets it has a story, some characters, and an atmosphere to provide.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful