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The Winter of Frankie Machine (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 4, 2007

115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Elmore Leonard fans who have not yet discovered Winslow (The Power of the Dog) will be delighted by his fourth thriller with its sympathetic antihero. Frank Machianno, a retired mob hit man known as Frankie Machine as a tribute to his efficiency, has put his past behind him and is living a tranquil life in San Diego running a bait shop and supplying restaurants with linens and seafood. When the son of a local mob boss asks for his backup in resolving a dispute with the Detroit mob, Frank agrees, only to find that he's been set up as the intended victim of a hit. Using his survival skills and street smarts, the executioner follows a trail of bodies to identify which of his past crimes has caught up with him. While the plot is familiar, Winslow has created plausible characters and taut scenes of suspense that will keep readers turning pages. Author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Frank Machianno thought he had quit the Mob for good. The 62-year-old Vietnam vet has settled into a quiet life in his native San Diego: operating a bait shack on Ocean Beach Pier, running three other local businesses (all on the up-and-up), and catching a set of waves every chance he gets. But Frank's sharpshooting skills are legendary (he wasn't called "The Machine" for nothing), and when the head of the Los Angeles syndicate calls in a favor, he finds himself back in the game. Turns out Frank was set up, but it's too late to change course; he's already neck-deep in the world of the thick-necked. Winslow, a longtime private investigator, is no stranger to society's underbelly; his past thrillers-- including The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997) and The Power of the Dog (2005)--vividly evoke the worlds of drugs, dirty politics, and organized crime. Although Winslow visits well-traveled Mafia terrain, his writing has a crisp, cinematic quality that refreshes the subject matter and will appeal to fans of Elmore Leonard (without alienating the Mario Puzo camp). No surprise that film rights have been sold to Robert De Niro; the actor, who earned an Oscar for his performance in The Godfather: Part II, is set to produce and star. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don Winslow (b. 1953) is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen crime and mystery novels as well as short stories and film screenplays. A Cool Breeze on the Underground, Winslow's debut and the first novel in his popular Neal Carey series, was nominated for an Edgar Award. Before becoming a fulltime writer, Winslow worked as a private detective in New York and California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If "The Power of the Dog" and "California Fire and Life" were not enough to prove the talent and versatility of Don Winslow, then this hard-hitting and intelligently plotted tale of life in the Southern California mob should put any doubts to rest. This is a no-nonsense epic of crime, of loyalties honored and trusts broken. Frankie Machine, like his creator, has serious chops. And if this isn't one of the best books of 2006, well, I guess then I'm reading from the wrong lists.

Frank Machianno is a 60-something small businessman in San Diego, a simple working guy balancing his bait shop business with three other part time jobs. A doting father to his pre-Med daughter. A loving boyfriend to a gorgeous former Vegas showgirl. A former US Marine sniper extraordinaire. A steadfast handyman for his ex, and still surfing after all these years. Everybody loves "Frank the bait guy."

And "Frankie Machine" is a retired hit man - a mafia button man of legend - a stone cold killer with principals: "I'd never kill a civilian - only other players."

But when the local mob boss and Detroit's Vince Vena lure Frankie into a trap, he begins a stroll down a bloody memory lane that crosses four decades and stretches between San Diego and Las Vegas while trying to figure which of several eligible candidates has waited till now to want him dead. And a colorful stroll it is, traveled by an eclectic mix of characters on both sides of the law, the shrewd and the stupid, friends true and traitorous, of relationships forged and broken. But most of all, it is a lane clogged with violence meted out by Frankie's steady hand, sometimes for vengeance, others "simply as business.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
THE POWER OF THE DOG and THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE have secured Don Winslow's place among the world's great crime writers. The former is epic in its influences and urgings; the latter is less ambitious but no less effective. The novel is the most pliable of forms; in his new novel Winslow's model is autobiography rather than epic, but this personal story carries larger cultural freight because Frankie is a retired Mafia hit man. His story is more than a personal account; it is also the story of the west coast mob and its relation to its older, more powerful midwestern and eastern antecedents.

The writing is pitch perfect; I wouldn't change a word. The key to the story is the central character and he is delightful in both his canny complexity and his dependable, standup simplicity. The role will be a delicious one. If DeNiro somehow changes his mind, one can imagine Gene Hackman or some other contemporary master relishing the chance to bring Frankie to life on the big screen. The constituent parts are all there: a great story, a great character, and a great theme--the old mob vs. the new and the attendant reflections it invites on larger issues of time, history, loss, and the shrinking possibilities of survival and redemption.

The Elmore Leonard influences--which others have noted--are clear, but Winslow's work is in no way derivative. He's simply working the same turf in his own sweet way. If Winslow isn't on your list of must-read, must-buy-in-hardcover writers, he should be.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I looked forward to reading Don Winslow's THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE because of all the rave reviews he garnered for his previous books. Being a Winslow newbie, I didn't know what to expect, other than action, guns, crime, and Mafia bad guys. Since action, guns, crime, and Mafia bad guys are my cup of tea, I put the kettle on the stove and anticipated drinking in the smooth lemony taste of this Winslow offering.

The result? A book that was short on the present and long on the past. And I mean LONG on the past.

WINTER starts out slowly; so slowly, in fact, that it takes till page 40 for any kind of conflict to enter the picture. Until then, all we do is follow Frank Machianno around as he runs his errands and chats with friends. That's six chapters of what amounts to a fictional biography. Not very interesting, to say the least. But I hung in there, and sure enough, the action picked up and the book started cranking. Frank Machianno is one bad dude, lemme tell you. But just as the action heats up, Winslow crams in about two or three flashbacks to explain Frankie's past life in the Mafia. Then we come back to the present for a chapter or two, then it's back to the multiple flashbacks. We spend so much time in the past--where there's only a mild amount of action; most of the flashbacks show Frankie doing more errand-running--that it dulls the present action. Frankie Machine had a lot of history, and most of it was relevant, but Winslow takes the lazy route and simply dunks the reader's head into Frankie's backstory rather than trying to artfully weave it into the current narrative. In fiction terms, that's called info-dumping, and Winslow dumps all over the place in this book.

Other than Frankie, the most interesting characters are the Mafia thugs.
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