Sunday, November 16, 2008

Review: The Winter of Frankie Machine

Three quarters of the way through The Winter of Frankie Machine, I was ready to give it up. The protagonist, a former Mob hitman turned bait shop owner, was trying to figure out who had put the hit on him by reminiscing about every job he’d done over the past 40-odd years. This long walk down Mafia Memory Lane read like the author’s box of index card notes on “Great Gangster Scenes.” It was entertaining, but without narrative cohesion – like watching a Sopranos highlights reel.

Luckily, in the last quarter, Winslow gets back to the actual plot of the story. He ties many (by no means all) of the threads together and wraps the whole thing up in an exciting finale. He managed to salvage the book for me, but just barely. Winslow’s world-weary killer-with-a-heart-of-gold protagonist made a great hero. His muscular writing style has just enough wry amusement to give the story a little edge, without being too cheeky. It’s just too bad that the plot was cobbled together.


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  1. I picked up a copy of this a couple of years ago at a book festival after hearing the author speak. I haven't yet read it, but I do hope to eventually. That's too bad it didn't hold together well up until the end. It'll be interesting to see how I fare with it.

  2. Please let me know what you think.

    I read somewhere (the back of the book?) that Robert DeNiro bought the movie rights to this, and I could see it making a decent movie. Movies so compress a novel anyway, that all the background bits of story could be woven into the tiny bit of actual plot and it could work.

    Like I said, the author's writing is good. I'd try another of his books.


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