Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Review: The Winter of Frankie Machine

The Winter of Frankie Machine The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Reread update. I'm pleased to report that Don Winslow has become much better known and respected since I originally wrote this review in 2010.**

“It’s a lot of work being me," Frank Machianno often thinks, and he’s got a point. Despite being in his early sixties, Frank is the slightly fussy owner of several small businesses that keep him hopping. Among them is the bait shop on San Diego’s Ocean Beach Pier where Frank is a local fixture, and he still makes time for the Gentlemen's Hour when several old timers gather to surf. Since his daughter just got into medical school it looks like Frank is going to be busy for the foreseeable future to pay those bills, and that's just fine with him.

But Frank isn’t just a hustling businessman. He once was known by the nickname Frankie Machine by the local branch of the Mafia that he worked for, and his name is still respected and feared. Even though he left that life behind years ago Frank reluctantly gets roped into doing a favor for the boss’s son. Things aren’t as advertised and both the mob and the feds are soon after him. Frankie Machine is going to have to confront old friends, old enemies, old grudges, and a new generation of mob wannabes to figure out who is gunning for him and why.

Don Winslow is one of the modern crime writers who started with a series, but then shifted into more character based stand-alone novels, kind of like what Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos have done. Even though he’s very talented, it doesn’t seem like he’s getting the same amount of attention as Lehane and Pelecanos are getting for similar work, and that puzzles me because Winslow definately belongs to be mentioned among the best of the modern crime authors.

Winslow has used the San Diego surf culture as a setting several times now, but he’s really created something unique with Frankie Machine. Surfer, former Marine, Vietnam vet, Mafia hitman, father, bait salesman, businessman, opera fan and civic minded local hero seems like a lot to roll into one character, but Frank is a fascinating figure.

The novel also uses a lot of flashbacks to explain Frank’s complex history, his life as a gangster and his ultimate disillusionment with organized crime. Frank lived through a lot of ups and downs as a mob guy from the peak of 70’s era Vegas to the hard times of the ‘80s as the feds finally started tearing traditional organized crime apart. There’s plenty of realistic action, but the heart of the story is Frank’s thoughts of his past and the conclusions he draws about his life of violence.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment