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Don Winslow (1) (1953–)

Author of The Power of the Dog

For other authors named Don Winslow, see the disambiguation page.

33+ Works 10,425 Members 538 Reviews 26 Favorited

About the Author

Don Winslow was born in New York City on October 31, 1953. He received a degree in African history from the University of Nebraska. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a movie theater manager, private investigator, safari guide, actor, theater director and consultant. His works include show more A Cool Breeze on the Underground, The Death and Life of Bobby Z, The Winter of Frankie Machine, Savages, The Kings of Cool, The Cartel, and the Neal Carey Mysteries series. His novel California Fire and Life won the Shamus Award. In 2016, he won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best crime thriller of the year for The Cartel. He has also written for film and television. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: reading at National Book Festival By Slowking4 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62180044


Works by Don Winslow

The Power of the Dog (2005) 1,660 copies
The Cartel (2015) 1,053 copies
Savages (2010) 966 copies
The Force (2017) 942 copies
The Border (2019) 580 copies
The Dawn Patrol (2008) 552 copies
City on Fire (2021) 453 copies
California Fire and Life (1999) 439 copies
Satori (2011) 398 copies
The Kings of Cool (2012) 351 copies
The Gentlemen's Hour (2009) 289 copies
Broken (2020) 258 copies
The Trail to Buddha's Mirror (1993) 198 copies
City of Dreams (2023) 154 copies
Way Down on the High Lonely (1993) 149 copies
While Drowning in the Desert (1996) 127 copies
Isle of Joy (1996) 95 copies
Savages [2012 film] (2012) — Screenwriter — 61 copies
Missing. New York: Roman (2014) 56 copies
Missing : Germany (2016) 31 copies
Vengeance (2014) 15 copies
The Main (2016) 3 copies

Associated Works

Phoenix Noir (2009) — Contributor — 136 copies
Hellboy: Oddest Jobs (2008) — Contributor — 103 copies
USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (2013) — Contributor — 83 copies
San Diego Noir (2011) — Contributor — 45 copies
The Interrogator and Other Criminally Good Fiction (2012) — Contributor — 19 copies


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Common Knowledge



I've been a fan of Don Winslow ever since, intrigued by the title, I picked a paperback of [California Fire and Life] off a library-sale table a couple of decades ago. [City on Fire] isn't his best work, but even an average outing with Winslow is an enormously entertaining roller-coaster ride. The plot whizzes along, the characters are more complex and vividly drawn than a lesser writer would bother to make them, and the setting -- Rhode Island in in the mid-80s, a time and a place I experienced first-hand -- is evoked with pitch-perfect accuracy. Winslow is better known for his novels about California and the desert Southwest, but he made me feel the fog rolling in off Narragansett Bay all over again, as if it were yesterday rather than 40 years ago.

The plot -- a riff on the origins of the Trojan War, played out among the rival Irish and Italian mobs in mid-eighties Providence -- is standard crime-fiction stuff. There are ethnic tensions, generational conflicts, and complicated family loyalties. The working-class social milieu is also familiar. You can feel Winslow, on both fronts, working what's usually Dennis Lehane's corner. In [City on Fire], though, Winslow takes a different path through the material than either Lehane or (for that matter) Mario Puzo. His hero, Danny Ryan, is anything but a young man with a pedigree, destined for great things. He's a modestly talented, modestly accomplished, modestly ambitious gangster who longs for more respect and responsibility than he gets from those he serves.

When a slight at an end-of-summer clambake spirals into open warfare between rival ethnic mobs, Danny gets a far bigger shot than he ever dreamed of: a chance to establish himself as a great leader or die in the process. Winslow makes it clear, however, that Danny isn't a Rhode Island version of Joe Coughlin, let alone Michael Corleone. He alternates between brilliant improvisations and disastrous miscalculations, sometimes supported by those closest to him and other times undermined by them for their own purposes. The book -- first in a trilogy -- ends with him achieving one of his dearest wishes, but at a terrible cost. Danny is, throughout the story, plausibly and refreshingly imperfect.

[City on Fire] is a crime story, not an extended contemplation of the human condition, but it has more going on, I think, than many reviewers on LibraryThing have given it credit for. "Loyalty" and "respect" are old, old tropes in crime stories, but Winslow finds interesting things to do with them, using them in more complicated ways than he seems to be doing at first. Danny's complicated family life, particularly his relationships with his estranged mother and quasi-adopted parents, also turn out to be more intriguing than it appears at first glance.

One of the running themes of the story is how the weight of history (personal, family, community) and the push and pull of old obligations (real or imagined) steers our lives in directions other than the ones we might choose for ourselves, given the chance. In this, as in his evocation of the Narragansett Bay fog, Winslow gets the ineffable nature of the thing perfectly right.
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ABVR | 23 other reviews | Feb 17, 2024 |
This was a truly fast and entertaining read. Our protagonist, Tim Kearney, is something very akin to Inspector Clouseau, man so very much out of his depth but with that streak of luck and raw instinct that makes him survive under the most impossible conditions ever.

Forced by DEA to impersonate a very powerful marijuana kingpin (using the fact that mentioned kingpin is dead) Tim gets involved in weird exchange with Mexican narco cartel where he is to be exchanged for the blown undercover police agent. But when this exchange goes down in a very very bad way Tim will have to find a way to survive because it is obvious everybody has something against the guy he is impersonating - cartels, crime network he left after his death, his love interest (or interests?) to name the few - plus we have people that want Tim dead because he is Tim ... not this other guy.

So underestimated by all parties involved Tim will prove a touch nut to crack (I mean how much do we know about people, right? This must be question in the head of the DEA officers during this entire novel :)) and end game is nothing short of epic.

Level of action, twists, bad guys getting surprised and blown away (and ever growing "street cred" for our boy Tim) makes this material that just flies from the pages. There are few steamy sex scenes too but they just feel organic to the whole plot, this disaster waiting to happen on every turn. At the end of each chapter you just can see Tim escaping the most certain death by the skin of his teeth.

Very enjoyable book, great action adventure novel. I haven't seen the movie so cannot give any comparison here but give yourself a treat and read the novel.

Highly recommended to all fans of crime fiction.
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Zare | 19 other reviews | Jan 23, 2024 |
postsign | 84 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |
postsign | 54 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |



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