Book Review: Don Winslow – City On Fire

While it’s sad to hear that Don Winslow is stepping down from writing to focus on his political campaign — “It’s time to do something else,” his statement reads — the good news is that the two other books that will form a trilogy with city ​​on fire are already written. I say good news because city ​​on fire is a cast iron cracker.

There’s an uneasy peace in Providence, RI in 1986. The Irish gang controls the docks, but that’s little compared to gambling, strip clubs, protection and everything the Italians control in the rest of the city, and they can call for help. from New York when necessary. John Murphy leads the Irish and has done so since taking over from Marty Ryan, who hit the bottle after his wife left. Marty’s son, Danny, is also Murphy’s son-in-law. Murphy wasn’t exactly thrilled about a Ryan joining the family, but his wife Catherine was putting her foot down. Danny had tried to walk away from life, he dreamed of becoming a sword fisherman, but Dogtown – and his love for Murphy’s daughter Terri – took him back.

The fuse is lit when Liam, the youngest Murphy, crosses the line with Pam, Paulie Moretti’s new daughter, at boss Pasco Ferri’s clambake. Things are starting to fall apart. Pasco, who rules all of southern New England, steps back, so the Moretti brothers take the liberty of pursuing Liam. As reluctant as he may be to do so, Danny may have to step in to protect those around him.

Readers of The Cartel Trilogy or the wonderful collection of short films, Broken, will devour this brilliant novel, which bodes very well for the second and third parts. Characters like Pasco – a villain who takes what he wants from his own niece – in search of a quiet life, the hopeless disaster Liam, the broken-down Marty Ryan surviving on Lucky Strikes, Bushmills and lottery tickets, and contrite Pam are all flawlessly drawn. There’s a whole subplot surrounding Danny’s mother, Madeline McKay, detailing her life before and after Vegas and how she crossed paths with Danny’s father, which would have made for a worthwhile novel on its own. Various settings, from Pasco’s party to Italians visiting Tim’s Spindrift Bar, to outside help from the old country and the plight of a hustler, are all perfectly executed, if you’ll excuse the pun and the confluence. events that form the ending is almost perfect.

All of these things should sound familiar to you from a hundred gangster movies, but Winslow is far too accomplished a writer to fall for the cliché. He rightly quotes Virgil and Homer in his epigraphs section because city ​​on fire is incredibly epic with razor-sharp dialogue that puts you in bars and streets and a plot as tight as a rusty nut.

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