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The Winter of Frankie Machine (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 4, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
And the ending devolves into a TV-style shootout and a final twist that you could see coming a mile away. I have some problems with the credibility of the ending, too, but I won't spoil it.
Other than what I consider an unbelievable main character and a contrived ending, the book is a fun read, and skips along from beach to desert and back meeting interesting characters along the.way, all of whom are more credible than Winslow has made Frankie.
As a retired cop, I do like how Winslow paints his mobsters in shades of gray. He shows the ambiguity that exists, among and between, mobsters, businessmen, cops and politicians. A lot of floating happens between those roles and there's very little honor among any of them, not just the thieves.
I don't want to pan this book too much. You'll enjoy it. It's just that I've come to expect so much from Don Winslow.
If you know anything about the history of the Mafia in Southern California, and particularly if you grew up here and know some of the stories of the Mob in San Diego, a lot of this feels like actual non-fiction history with some of the names changed to protect the guilty (and protect Winslow from libel lawsuits, of course). I had a lot of fun trying to replace fictional names with the real ones - some are obvious (there is a reason that the "La Costa" resort in Carlsbad was called "La Costa Nostra" by a lot of San Diegans in the 60's-70's).
Frankie himself is a smart, "too cool for school" semi-retired mobster - the kind of guy you wouldn't mind drinking with (or surfing with) - if you didn't know his full history. Even after you know his history, you will still be pulling for him to make it through the worst time of his life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hard to put down. Good for anyone who enjoys organized crime stories. Disappointing ending, but it usually is. I'll try more of his books for sure.Published 3 days ago by matt mueller
After reading Don Winslow's "The Cartel" I expected an exciting and fast moving story with deeply drawn characters.. What a disappointment! Read morePublished 15 days ago by John SantaPietro
Great turns in this book, with a fine lead character. Can't put it down. A cool sequel to the author's great cartel series.Published 1 month ago by Lawrence Burns
A great read with plenty of twists to keep you glued to the pages. Hard to put down even when you should be doing something important.Published 1 month ago by Herm
The mafia, in San Diego? When I think of San Diego I think Steve Garvey, and retired Navy guys with road rage. Read morePublished 2 months ago by RobThomas916
entertaining, fast paced, clever plot twists (at least to me... maybe I am kinda slow...), I guess this genre is supposed to be noir (gritty detective), but it is very... Read morePublished 2 months ago by king toot
This was a good read. Don writes well and created a good story here. I would surely recommend this one.Published 3 months ago by Jeff L