Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
The Death and Life of Bobby Z by Don Winslow (1997)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307275345, Paperback)Here's a thriller with everything going for it--a great plot gimmick, excellent action and sex scenes, beautifully-realized characters on every level, and a crisp, pungent, in-your-face writing style that rarely stops to let you catch your breath. Nobody has actually seen the legendary Laguna Beach surfer-turned-drug dealer Bobby Zacharias for years, so a nasty federal agent thinks he has a chance of passing off a lookalike in a hostage switch with a Mexican drug lord. Bobby Z's double, a career screw-up named Tim Kearney, takes the deal because it means a chance to get out of prison--where the Hell's Angels want to terminate him. But when the switch backfires, everyone in the world is after the fake Bobby Z--who takes off with the 6-year-old son of the real Bobby on a cinematic, fully satisfying run for their lives.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:43 -0400)
A Mexican drug lord offers to free a DEA agent in return for an American gangster who is in jail in Thailand. In fact the gangster is dead, but the Mexican does not know this. Convicted killer Tim Kearney is offered his freedom by the DEA if he will impersonate the gangster and Kearney jumps at the opportunity, only to discover the Mexican wanted the gangster free so he could kill him.
(summary from another edition)