on 9 September 2008
As Frankie says,"it's hard being me"!Frankie is precise;with high standards in everything he does(even making coffee);and he has a code of behaviour.He likes everything just so.He is also the "bait man";with a fish delivery business and a laundry business.He is also a benfactor to the local community,sponsoring children's baseball and basketball.Frankie is also the coolest and most efficient "hit man" for the Mafia.Winslow has written a great story here,with wonderful characters and a twisting,turning plot.You see,in spite of loyal and unswerving service to the Mafia for 35 years,someone has ordered a "hit" on him.Unfortunately for them,Frankie's quick reflexes save him,and now Frankie Machine is following the links in a long trail back to the person who was foolish enough to try to erase the most lethal member of the mob.He goes back through the many years of incidents and contacts as he tries to figure out the WHO.But he is also being hunted and further attempts are being made.We come down to a race-can his pursuers kill him,before he finds the person at the root of his new found troubles?
Along the way we are treated to wonderful insights on Frankie's philosophy and way of life,as well as a cast of great characters.
This is a great book,and would be a wonderful part for DeNiro or even Mel Gibson.
Frank Machianno is a middle-aged but still fit (still surfing during `Gentlemen's Hour', when younger men are at work) fishing bait supplier, who has a side job providing fish and napkins to the local restaurants. He has split with his wife, Patty, but has recently renewed his relationship with his daughter, Jill, who has won a place at a prestigious pre-med school. Back in the day, Frankie Machine had quite a reputation as a hit-man, but all that is over now and he has settled down with his girlfriend Donna. Unfortunately, things are going to change, when for reasons he is not clear about initially a Wise Guy back East gets a little itchy about a certain matter buried deep in his past.
This novel is deviously brilliant, pulling you in with one puzzle sited inside another, until the final unwrapping of events. There is a dying fall of a plot that may not be quite the last word. I loved this book, perhaps even more than the utterly amoral and more coldly vicious 'The Power of the Dog'. I want to read all of Don Winslow's output - it has everything: punchy, witty dialogue, realistic and honest characterisations, intelligent development of plot, and non-stop action that fulfils your expectations. He is the best I know at delivering a whole other world on a plate.
on 22 November 2007
I read a lot of thrillers but this is my first winslow book, and the best book of it's type i've read for a long time. Winslow succeeds in making the main character Frankie "Machine" very sympathetic, despite him being a former hit man, not an easy task. There is a brilliant storyline, with Frankie being forced out of retirement to try to find out who is trying to kill him, while his history is told in a series of flashbacks, showing how he came to be a legendary hitman, and why his past may be coming back to haunt him. The story is fast paced, with plenty of action and some nice twists thrown in as well. Excellent, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Frank Machianno has it all figured out - his daughter is starting medical school, he gets along with his ex-wife, he has a loving relationship with his girlfriend. He runs a bait shop and surfs in the early morning hours before checking on his laundry business and real estate management. Yeah life is a good for Frank who has a well defined routine of the good stuff. That is until his past life intrudes upon this calm that shatters his new life completely. Y'see, Frank Machianno used to be called "Frankie Machine", one of the best mob hitmen who ever lived. Now, years after he left, he's being targeted by the mob, and it's up to him to kill his way to the truth!
Yeah! Awesome setup right? I thought so too, and Winslow, a writer whom I've heard of but only in the last few weeks began reading, does a fantastic job of wringing every bit of tension and excitement out of the many brilliant scenes he has Frankie in. A boat at night with potential for death. A sniper shootout in a small desert town. A car chase in the mountains. A showdown on a beach by moonlight.
But it isn't just those scenes Winslow does well. The characters are amazingly written. Frankie Machine is both real and a fantasy (nobody could be that good or lucky or both) while the Federal Agent Dan, one of Frankie's friends, is also a great character. Frankie's mob "friends" are a joy to read about, from their successes to their desperate blood soaked failures, you're there in 1970s Las Vegas or 2000s California every step of the way.
The story is part Road to Perdition, part Goodfellas, part Scarface (for the flashback sequences set in the 70s and 80s) and the great thing is that "Frankie Machine" takes the best elements of those great films and still manages to be it's own story.
While the ending might stretch credulity, the journey up to it is nothing short of exhilirating fun. It really is a brilliant read and anyone looking for just that would do well to pick up this novel. I loved it and am already into another Winslow novel "The Death and Life of Bobby Z". Great book!
on 4 September 2008
This is a great read.The synopsis is handily supplied by amazon,so I won't repeat.Frankie is a very organised,older man of many interests and skills,living a very structured life in san diego.He has the highest standards in everything that he does-hence as he says,"it's hard being me".He likes things done a certain way-his coffee with real,fresh beans,just ground ,a proper coffee maker,and served in a proper cup.He is well known in the community and a generous supporter of community endeavours.But Frankie is also a top mafia hitman.Although he has not done anything for many years,the Mafia,like the KGB,is not the kind of organization you can "retire" from.And in spite of his new life,his old life suddenly intrudes in a most violent and disruptive way.Soon Frankie is calling on his old skills and knowledge to find the source of his current difficulties.His journey back through the various things he was involved with,as it involves something from his past,is what makes up the story.The writing is great,and the characters believeable.I suppose I wished Winslow had written even more in depth about each of the people Frankie goes back to.It would have made the book longer,but with writing as good as this,it would have been a joy to read.
This is a cracking book about a former mob hit man and enforcer who discovers that you are never truly out of that life when his connection to an event way back in his past means several less than celebruious characters are after him and it's not for a polite chat. But the old skills are still there and he is able to survive various attempts on his life while getting to the bottom of what the hell is going on.
Frank Machianno aka Frankie "Machine"( After his metronomic efficiency) is a guy into his sixties, with a hand in numerous business ,s an ex-wife who still has claims on his time , a daughter who has only recently started talking to him again and a lover -an ex dancer- who now runs a high class clothes shop and gives him plenty of space and great sex. His life is near perfect but like Carlito Brigante of "Carlito,s Way" with whom he shares a certain affinity he finds that his past has an inextricable grip on his present and future. And he's going to need all his old expertise to survive.
The novel moves like a surfer catching a wave-apt as Frankie is also a surf bum and is beautifully written by Don Winslow. Lean and spare like it's hugely likable protagonist ( Frank maintains a strict moral code despite his mob past) the prose gains a compelling addictive rhythm . This is possibly the most mesmerizing thriller I've ever read with the exception of "Red Dragon ". The end is a little bit of a cop out -the epilogue feels a little tacked on but as complaints go it's a very very minor one If the forthcoming movie is half as good the source material it will still be essential viewing .
on 4 July 2008
DON WINSLOW is a new author to me, and I would recommend him to anyone looking for heart-stopping action.
Okay, the plot is sometimes hackneyed, there are more cliches than you can shake a goodfella at, but the fact is, thanks in no small part to Winslow's excellent prose, you care about the characters.
Winslow goes to great lengths to demythologise the legend of organised crime: there is no honour, in the end everyone will rat out to save his own skin. Although the made men want to believe that they are acting by codes of honour, they're really not. The exception is, of course, the eponymous Frankie Machine, former mob hitman, now retired. However, although the wise guys look to the past as an example of how things used to be done, honourably, the truth is that they never were any different from today. Frankie isn't therefore so much an anachronism as a freak, who we see never really fit in with the mob. Now he needs removing, because the world has moved on, and who knows when he'll spill the beans on his lurid past, because everyone else would.
It ain't easy being me, he reflects, mournfully, but his story is easy to read. As the book progresses so the chapters grow shorter and more breathless: the mob are closing in, and what chance does the last honourable man have against the new young guns? There is an irony to newblood Jimmy 'The Kid' believing himself to be "old school" - as Winslow, in a succession of flashbacks has shown never really existed at all.
If there is a criticism of the novel, it is that the ending comes across as a little rushed, and the ending is clear from the end of a very long pier: Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego, to be precise. But this could just be that I didn't want the book to end!
Discover Don Winslow and the formidable Frankie Machine.
It's an offer you really shouldn't refuse.
on 17 December 2011
This book is damn good I read it twice within 6 months which I never, ever do. In between I read Winslow's "The Death and Life of Bobby Z". I've read shed loads of crime fiction but Winslow is the best author I've come across in many years. It's not just the story or the interesting characters that he creates. It's about the pace and the language, the lingo, the dialogue. Do yourself a favour and read this book before it more than likely becomes ruined by gutless Hollywood writers and directors when they eventually release the movie version of this. Even though Robert De Nero is cast in a lead role, personally I don't think he will save it, despite him being one of the greatest actors in cinema. Don't delay - buy a copy today. It's a classic.
on 10 August 2009
Frankie Machine...doesn't have the epic sweep of The Power of the Dog, but thats the only criticism I could make. Its a great crime novel and good enough to stand up outside the genre with its themes of aging and a world of changing values. Frankie is a brilliant creation, in the hands of another writer he could become corny and cliched but Winslow keeps him edgy. The dialogue crackles and the action never lets up. The surfing themes of Califirnia Fire and Life which I have also just read are here too giving Frankie another aspect that separates him from your run of the mill crime protagonist. I really enjoyed Frankie but I still wish for another Winslow novel with the majesty of The Power of the Dog, one of my favourite books.
on 5 September 2007
This is a fantastic read. I dont want to write anything about the plot, you can read the synopsis, but this book is simply wonderful. The characters are exceptionally deep and vivid, so you really get to know what they are like. The story line is enticing and will keep you reading at a fast pace all the way through.
If you are a fan of thrillers and gangster style books, then you will love this. If you aren't, then you will still love this book. Winslow's writing ability is fantastic, and you find yourself getting caught up in the plot.
This is a masterpiece, definitely buy this, you will not be dissapointed.