Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Winter of Frankie Machine by, Don Winslow

Everyone loves Frank the Bait Guy.

Frank Machianno has settled into a pretty nice routine.  He has an ex-wife, an ex-showgirl girlfriend, and a daughter going to med school. He has his bait shop. He supplies fresh fish and fresh linens to many of San Diego's finest restaurants.  He's the unofficial sheriff of the Ocean Beach Pier. And he's also a retired mob hitman.

When the son of the mob boss Frank used to work for, a snot-nosed little punk named Mouse Junior, feels his porn business is getting squeezed by the Detroit mafia, Jr asks Frank to accompany him on a sitdown. With the legendary Frankie Machine in his corner, he figures he'll get a better deal out of the Detroit bosses than on his own. The Detroit boys say they want to talk to Frank alone first and try to kill him.  Frank takes out both would-be assassins, one of whom is an FBI informant.  Frank's routine is now blown to hell and he's being hunted by the mob and the feds.

The Winter of Frankie Machine is told in a mix of flashback and present-day action. As he tries to piece together who would want him killed (and who would have the juice to get a hit on Frankie Machine sanctioned), he remembers his decades long career as go-to hitman for the San Diego mafia. The world is populated by colorful wise guys with even more colorful names. You've got Frankie Machine, Mouse Senior (and Junior), Billy Jacks, Sherm, Bap, and Momo.

As with all of Don Winslow's novels, this one is told in his fast-paced style with lots of talk about surfing and goes into almost travelogue detail about parts of San Diego and its history.  I liked the book and found it easy to root for Frankie Machine. It's a great novel, but I'd place it a step below the Boone Daniels books and California Fire and Life.


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