Don Winslow

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Don Winslow
Winslow in Madrid, Spain, October 2015
Winslow in Madrid, Spain, October 2015
Born (1953-10-31) October 31, 1953 (age 66)
New York City
OccupationNovelist, screenwriter
EducationMaster of Arts
Alma materUniversity of Nebraska–Lincoln
GenreCrime fiction, mystery fiction, historical fiction
Notable worksNeal Carey Mysteries, The Cartel Series
SpouseJean Winslow (m. 1985–present)
Children1 son

Don Winslow is an American author[1] most recognized for his crime and mystery novels. Many of his books are set in California. Five of his novels feature private investigator Neal Carey. He has also co-written screenplays for Savages, Satori, and other adaptations of his novels with screenwriter/producer Shane Salerno.

Early life[edit]

Winslow was born on October 31, 1953, in New York City. [2] He grew up in Perryville, a beach town near the village of Matunuck, Rhode Island.[3][4][5] He credits his parents for preparing him to become a writer: his mother was a librarian and his father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Navy who told stories and invited Navy friends around who told more. They inspired Winslow to become a storyteller himself.[4] He majored in African history at the University of Nebraska.[2]


In the late 1970s, Winslow returned to New York City, first working as manager of a chain of movie theaters, then as a private investigator in movie theaters and the back alleys of Times Square. He returned to school to earn a master's degree in Military History, led safaris in Kenya and hiking trips in China's Sichuan province.

His first published novel, A Cool Breeze on the Underground (1991) was written during this time. It was the first book in a saga about investigator Neal Carey and was nominated for an Edgar Award. His thriller The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997) was a success and allowed him to become a full-time writer.[4] In 2007 Bobby Z was turned into a film starring Paul Walker and Laurence Fishburne. Winslow wrote the adaptation of Savages into a film of the same name, with Oliver Stone directing.

After success with his recent novel, The Force, which received the first perfect rating from The Real Book Spy,[6] the book was licensed to 20th Century Fox, with David Mamet as the scriptwriter and James Mangold as director.

Personal life[edit]

Winslow's career as an investigator often took him to California to look into arson cases, as his storytelling skills helped explain cases to juries. In the mid-1990s, he moved to California with his wife, Jean, and their infant son, Thomas, and continued writing. They currently live in Julian, California.[2][5]

Writing process[edit]

Winslow said he writes from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then hikes six or seven miles before returning to work. He typically works on two books at a time, moving to the other when work on the first stalls. He said the longest he has gone without writing after a book is completed was five days. He's described writing as "an addiction".[2][5][7]

The time it takes him to write a book varies. The Death and Life of Bobby Z was written on the train between Dana Point, California and Los Angeles, one chapter per trip.[2][4] The Power of the Dog took six years to research and write, including a trip to Mexico to interview people with similar experiences as the book's characters.[8]



  • 1991: A Cool Breeze on the Underground (Neal Carey Mysteries)
  • 1992: The Trail to Buddha's Mirror (Neal Carey Mysteries)
  • 1993: Way Down on the High Lonely (Neal Carey Mysteries)
  • 1994: A Long Walk Up the Water Slide (Neal Carey Mysteries)
  • 1996: While Drowning in the Desert (Neal Carey Mysteries)
  • 1996: Isle of Joy (A Winter Spy under the pseudonym MacDonald Lloyd)
  • 1997: The Death and Life of Bobby Z
  • 1999: California Fire and Life
  • 2005: The Power of the Dog (The Cartel Series)
  • 2006: The Winter of Frankie Machine
  • 2008: The Dawn Patrol (Boone Daniels Series)
  • 2009: The Gentlemen's Hour (Boone Daniels Series)
  • 2010: Savages (Savages Series)[9]
  • 2011: Satori
  • 2012: The Kings of Cool (Savages Series) [10]
  • 2015: The Cartel (The Cartel Series)
  • 2017: The Force[11]
  • 2019: The Border (The Cartel Series)[12]


  • 2004: Looking for a Hero (with Peter Maslowski), ISBN 978-0-8032-3244-0 [13]

Scripts and screenplays[edit]


Winslow won the 2012 Raymond Chandler Award at the Courmayeur Noir Festival. Previous winners include John le Carré, John Grisham and Michael Connelly.[14]

Awards by book:

A Cool Breeze on the Underground

Way Down on the High Lonely

The Death and Life of Bobby Z

California Fire and Life

The Power of the Dog

The Winter of Frankie Machine

The Dawn Patrol

The Gentlemen’s Hour


The Kings of Cool

The Cartel


  1. ^ Janet Maslin (July 7, 2010). "Books of The Times – New-Wave Drug Dealers in Don Winslow's Savages". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hi. My name is Don Winslow, and I'm a writing addict" Archived 2010-08-20 at the Wayback Machine, by John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 8, 2008. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  3. ^ "Bio", Don Winslow's Official Website. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d "Surfing shamus", by Scott Timberg, June 09, 2008, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c "Don Winslow on Surf Noir, Appeal Of Crime Fiction", by Jeffrey A. Trachtenbert, May 23, 2008, Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  6. ^ "Featured Review: 'The Force' By Don Winslow – The Real Book Spy". Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  7. ^ "Crime writer considers US war on drugs", Kerry O'Brien, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, broadcast 31/05/2007. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  8. ^ "Inside the war on drugs"[permanent dead link], by Regis Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 8, 2005. Retrieved July 07, 2010.
  9. ^ Savages at Simon & Schuster.
  10. ^ The Kings of Cool at Simon & Schuster.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Winslow, Don (2019). The Border. ISBN 9781460753552. OCLC 1066129044.
  13. ^ "Looking for a Hero" University of Nebraska press. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  14. ^ "'Savages' Author Don Winslow Awarded Raymond Chandler Award", by Mike Fleming Jr.
  15. ^ Míriam Pina García (4 September 2015). "Don Winslow's 'The Cartel' wins the RBA Prize for Crime Writing". Retrieved 5 December 2015.

External links[edit]