Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Listened: "The Winter of Frankie Machine" by Don Winslow

Listened: The Winter of Frankie Machine, 2006, download. 

San Diego born Frank Marchiano (a guess at the spelling since this was an audio) is a teenaged surfing bum.  After high school Frank gets hired off a tuna boat to do small work for the mob as a driver and gofer.  Frank witnesses a mob killing and joins the Marines.  Frank goes to Vietnam.  Frank returns to San Diego and ends up with the mob again.  Frank does a murder.  Frank starts doing killings for hire and earns the Frankie Machine sobriquet from his killer pal.

Fast forward 40 years and Frank is mostly retired from the mob but called on for help.  Frank is 62 but fights off and kills two assassins.  Frank has to figure out who wants him dead and why.  Flashbacks ensue.  Hunt and run ensues.  Winslow-ness writing style ensues.

Good story.  I have read recent discussion about whether a character should be likeable.  The argument against this is that a character should be compelling and interesting.  I suppose Frank is those things but I did not much like the guy.  Frank loves his family.  Frank is very loyal to his mob co-workers.  Frank has legitimate businesses that he runs as legitimate businesses.  Frank is not a goon.  But, Frank is still a hired killer. 

Sure, Frank only killed other criminals in the criminal life but he also killed friends.  Frank never makes it big in the mob.  He is an "earner" but most money goes up the chain to the San Diego boss, to the Los Angeles boss, to the Detroit boss.  Frank is used as much as the next guy.  Frank remains loyal to people who turn on each other like snakes.

1.  More Winslow Surfer Love.
2.  More San Diego corruption.  Winslow and T. Jefferson Parker should write a novel together.
3.  Incorporates a fictionalization of the Danielle van Dam murder.  I remember that case pretty well.  I don't know if coverage was nationwide or if Phoenix coverage was big because San Diego is close by.
4.  Winslow often uses real events in his books.  I wonder what else in here is based off true events.  Las Vegas mob dealings.  A war between strip bar owners. Savings and Loan scams mixed with mob scams.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Frankie Machine is also the name of the main character in Nelson Algren's Man With The Golden Arm; played by Frank Sinatra in the movie of the same name.