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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Great Read

I have to say, I was expecting more mystery when I decided to get this but even though the detective story isn't really that much about detection, I loved it. Great plot with interesting characters, exciting action, some real touching moments, some very funny one liners. I bought this because it was on sale but I will definitely be using my Audible credits on the next books in the series. I'm hooked on the characters and the idea and can't wait to read more.

36 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Very Pleasant Surprise

If you could sum up A Cool Breeze on the Underground in three words, what would they be?

Entertaining, surprising, and engaging

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Cool Breeze on the Underground?

What was most memorable and what I liked best about this story was original and non-traditional lead character in this book. I had never heard of Don Winslow but saw this book a couple of weeks ago listed as a "daily special." The summary description sounded intriguing enough for me to invest $3.95. It sounded like a detective story with a couple of potentially interesting twists, and indeed it was-----but so much more. The author does a nice job of beginning the story and then periodically relating the background on the main character in a very fluid manner so that the reader does not become confused or bored. Before I was half way through, I was so intrigued by the lead character that I found myself hoping that this was, or soon would be, a series. After finishing the book, I checked into other works by this author and found that, to my delight, this was the case. I am now reading the second in the series and it appears to be of at least the same high quality.

Which scene was your favorite?

Hard to say without giving away key parts of the story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Thanks to Audible for featuring this book as a "daily special," without which I probably would not have become familiar with this author. Also, the performance (reader) was outstanding. I had never listened to any books read by Joe Barrett, but he was perfectly matched for this particular story and for the characters therein. Also, much to my immense relief and satisfaction, there were no egregious mispronunciations----an attribute that is unfortunately all too rare.

22 people found this helpful

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Terrific!

Great blend of suspense, humor, and endearing characters. Lots of surprises throughout. The reader struck a perfect balance.

14 people found this helpful

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This thing's fun!

Don Winslow's a talented craftsman. The story's about a backward Pygmalion. This time the waif's a male,but the Professor's every bit the taskmaster. It's a caper tale that kept me happy from the start on. Of course Joe Barrett's a vocal master. I cannot imagine how he manages to age his characters as the plot develops. Yep, A Cool Breeze blew 15 stars out of my hard-to-please wallet.

25 people found this helpful

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Funny, suspenseful, good characters

I was introduced to Don Winslow by reading "The Power of the Dog" which is a tour de force in a genre I would call reality fiction. That book was obviously well researched and I learned a lot about the history, and hypocrisy of the "war on drugs.” "A Cool Breeze on the Underground" is the first in a series that I found hugely enjoyable although not as hard hitting as "The Power of the Dog" or even Winslow's more recent fiction that is set in southern California.
Hard hitting or not, I recommend "A Cool Breeze on the Underground" and for that matter, I recommend all of Don Winslow's fiction.I wish he was still writing the Neal Carey series in addition to his other excellent fiction. The story grabs your attention and keeps it to the end and along the way you will find humor as well as some thought provoking subject matter.
Joe Barrett does an excellent job portraying the somewhat quirky characters.

24 people found this helpful

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Joe Barrett reading Don Winslow = joy squared

Mr. Winslow creates such interesting characters and lets them speak in that snarky, witty prose that makes me wish I could meet them in person. Well, some of them. Some of them are scary creeps. Definitely worth listening to.

30 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Not what I expected

If you could sum up A Cool Breeze on the Underground in three words, what would they be?

Clever, captivating, unexpected

What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

Barrett did a great job narrating. He gave all of the characters their own voice, and it was always clear who was talking and when. If a certain character was thinking something, it was in their unique voice. He made it very enjoyable, and the tones that he used to throughout the book made you really feel what was happening. A superb performance.

Any additional comments?

This book wasn't at all what I expected. I purchased it a long time ago and I've had it sitting in my library for ages and I finally decided to listen to it. The dialog and plot is realistic, nothing seems too hard to believe, and it makes it even more appealing to listen to. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to listening to more Neal Carey mysteries

5 people found this helpful

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Much better than that dog book.

Where does A Cool Breeze on the Underground rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top third. Not to be boastful, but my library contains about 1000 audiobooks, so it is hard for me to make judgments like this. It's hard for me to even think of all the audiobooks I've listened to.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Neal, the protagonist, is clearly the man whom Mr. Winslow wants you to root for. And you do. He takes on the global mess that is Ally and her twisted family, complete with her heroin addiction, as just a teenager, and her scuzzy lifestyle (read: prostitution) and her scuzzier friends. Colin, the bad guy, is a truly nauseating bad guy. You just want him to get his comeuppance, as they used to say, and you are glad when he does, although this requires a couple of plot tricks that strain credulity a bit.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love Joe Barrett. It is far beyond just his gravelly voice, which is always pleasing. All the British accents he does! He separates the Cockney from the House of Lords and everything in between. I've never been a Brit-o-phile. Winslow's description of the heat in the "tube" makes you claustrophobic, just antsy to get out of there.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I can't do that. I am happy to let a long book take some time. This one in particular has an unusual surprise: I liked the second half much more than the first half, which is not usually the case. I believe that this is because of the extremely sweet love scenes that take place during Ally's rugged rehab. Unrequited, which makes it all the more tender, and such a contrast to the disgusting, gory pile of violence that is that dog book. If it were just that one, I would never read another book by Winslow. Now, I definitely will give it another go, old chap. With a brandy snifter in my leather chair in my cozy wood-lined personal library, with my trusty corn cob pipe at hand.

Any additional comments?

No. This was a pleasure. Thanks. I hope all your readers who might be skeptical of Mr. Winslow will give this one a shot (so to speak).

29 people found this helpful

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Excellent listen

Would you listen to A Cool Breeze on the Underground again? Why?

Yes, would listen and read the book also

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, trying to figure out how Neal is going to make his next move.

Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Enjoyed all of his performances

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but unfortunatly it was not so

Any additional comments?

Going through fiction titles and picked and picked Don Winslow by accident. How have I not
listened to him or read his books.

15 people found this helpful

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Tobias Smollett Noir

"He was lonely, but he was used to that. He had his books to read."
- Don Winslow, A Cool Breeze on the Underground.

Don't worry, I only give away the endings. Sometimes I wished I read authors in order. I'm only hitting Don Winslow's 1st novel late in my Don Winslow game. I think I might have 2 more fiction books of his and one more nonfiction before I'm a Don Winslow completist. But this one is one of my favorites. It is your typical detective fiction if you thread you typical detective fiction with characters that seem to fall out of a Dickens novel and are studied up on Smollett novels and Peeble's A Short History of Scotland.

It isn't a perfect novel, but for readers of classic 18th and 19th Century English fiction and American detective novels, it doesn't get more perfect than this one.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 08-06-10

a quirky and very enjoyable thriller

If you are looking for a thriller off the beaten track, then I urge you to try this book. Very well written and plotted with a lot of well drawn and likeable characters, a good mix of thrills and humour, the book hooks you from the off, and it is difficult to break away from from listening so well does the narrative bowl along.

The narration is pretty good too, though there is some unintended hilarity with the many British accents the narrator tries to put across; never has an East-end Londoner or a Yorkshireman sounded quite like this! Oddly enough though, the narrator stills gets the characters well and this doesn't detract from the overall narration or the story.

Strongly recommended. I shall certainly be exploring other works by Don Winslow - one to look out for to be sure.

4 people found this helpful

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  • avagardro
  • 11-09-21

my first Winslow - not my last

listened to this on recommendation from a friend. Not my usual genre or taste but I throughly enjoyed the fast paced and engaging story. hasn't dated that well (it's 1991) language and attitude wise but nonetheless I look forward to more in the series.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-09-21

Good story, full of twists, voice characterisation could be better.

It is good twisty plot with some great characters, none of whom are perfect.
Other commentators have mentioned the accents. The English, Scottish and Irish ones do tend to wander a bit between but I didn’t find it a massive drag on my enjoyment.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James Baker
  • 01-30-20

Desperately Dated and Awful Accents

This was recommended to me... interesting start and slightly random but entertaining flashback to Neil’s upbringing and baffling love for 18th century English novels... then he is off to 1970’s London, which is where it all starts to creak. Joe Barrett hasn’t quite mastered any of the English accents he chooses to have a go at - so the result is all a bit Dick Van Dyke.
Author obviously had a lovely time researching this in London but the story gets tricky to follow when the place names, geography and linguistic peculiarities of the English are just plain wrong... I’m guessing there was plenty of time for an editor to check these details but obviously didn’t happen..
Colin the baddy swings between jolly cockney and evil bastard, leaving this reader a little confused as to whether we are listening to clunky comedy or badly executed crime caper...
I have to admit I ran out of steam at the point where the petrol pump guy says “we don’t call them cars here mate, we call them autos”... that’s a new one to this Brit...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr William Dewar
  • 07-20-15

Should have stayed Stateside

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

Although the plot was good, the ridiculous attempts at English accents by the narrator and the weird narrative describing various aspects of English life and colloquial language spoilt it for me, so if the novel had stayed in the USA it would have been much better!

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was a bit rushed and to be honest I was just relieved to have got rid of the silly accents.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Joe Barrett?

Maybe Humphrey Bower.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story was quite good.

Any additional comments?

I bought this after listening to California Fire and Life which was excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • frances
  • 05-25-22

Good story teller

But, abit long winded. Too much unnecessary detail. Made me fall asleep! Oops! Zzzz

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  • Jenni F.
  • 05-14-22

Ummm

A bit long so a 4. However stuck with it over a few days on and off. Good for a change.

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  • Simon Edwards
  • 04-27-22

Comical British accents!

A generally easy going take but I feel the author and narrator have never visited the UK. Joe Barrett needs to have serious words with his voice coach, (if he had one) Don Winslow needs to realise that not all Brits talk like they’re on the set of Mary Poppins.
I listened to this story on my commute to work and had a few laugh out loud moments when the accents got too wayward.
However, a nice easygoing tale, I’ll be looking out for the follow up stories.

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  • Gilbert Linton
  • 04-19-22

Cor Blimey Guvnor - it's the Peelers - no mistake

Having read an interview with Don Winslow in the Guardian, I was interested to try out his work by sampling a couple of titles included in my membership. Free Billy is a nicely drawn short story although the ending can be spotted from a long, long way out. A Cool Breeze on the Underground is an earlier work and its style lacks some of the polish of Free Billy.

Bizarrely, the story takes in a mysterious corporation, a strange sub-plot about the works of Tobias Smollett and eighteenth-century literature, but most disastrously sets a major chunk of the action in punk-influenced London of the late seventies.

The narration is unintentionally hilarious as the New York-born narrator Joe Barratt attacks the recreation of a Cockney accent with the kind of homicidal glee I last heard from Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. This is layered into the Mockney dialogue from time to time with bits of random Mummerset, Australian, music hall Oirish, and a pastiche of the Thunderbirds chauffeur Parker. By the time our hero visits a comedy-accent Scottish doctor (with a passion for Smollett obviously) to get his damaged knee treated - after a fight with a gang of Pakistani men (oh the accents there), the narration has taken on a hysterically funny aspect.

The dialogue seems to have been written by someone who has never listened to a native speaker of English "Ello rugger, shout you to a pint!" (pronounced "point") by an East End cockney and "Moi Dah allus told me to get a union job,"

And no one has called members of the Metropolitan Police "Peelers" since the nineteenth century,

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  • Fiona Erskine
  • 03-13-22

Captivated

An American observes the real London. One of those books I didn't want to end. My first Don Winslow - where have you been all my life? Great story. Fabulous writing - the drugged up punk music concert must be the finest example of psychic distance / stream of consciousness. Brilliant.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Judith
  • 04-09-19

Terrific

a good and engaging main character, with a good back story. Please record and release the rest of the series .

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-15-22

Really good.

Thought it a little slow to start but soon has you hooked. Turned in to a great story wanting to continue listening. First time I had listen to this author it would be the last. Narration excellent 👌 as well.

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  • Brett
  • 02-20-22

A cool story

A terrific story with lots of great characters. The back stories of the characters are very well setup and the many sub plots are effortlessly interwoven. I'm looking forward to reading more of Don Winslow's stories.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-15-22

superb but a little slow at the beginning

took me a bit to let the story unfold but highly enjoyed the journey. at the middle somewhere I am laughing fit to bust because the visual is so comical. yes a full star performance thankyou

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  • Noelle N.
  • 12-02-21

1st book by author could not put down

The story the narration the characters all sublime. Twists turn evocative descriptions I felt like I was back living in London what a great character Neal is. I’m having trouble sourcing his next book though

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-23-21

So good

Don Winslow is my favourite author in the crime/action/thriller genre. This book would've been a page turner, but I listened to it so it was something along the same lines. The narration suited the book and the characters as well.