Title: The Winter of Frankie Machine
Rating: 4 Stars
What are the odds that I’d read two completely different books starring a protagonist named Frankie Machine almost exactly a year apart?
Well, this is a completely different Frankie Machine than the morphine addict in The Man With The Golden Arm.
This Frankie Machine is a gentlemen of fairly advanced age that is constantly working. He has about three different jobs that he juggles as he balances the needs of his ex-wife, his girlfriend, and his daughter that was just accepted into medical school.
Everything seems fine until someone tries to kill him. It turns out that he is actually a kind of retired mafia hit man. As he delves into his past trying to figure out who wants him dead, he is also on the run trying to stay alive. That is the twin plots at work here.
There’s nothing tremendously complex here. This is the same author that wrote The Power Of The Dog. This was basically another crime novel, this time centered around the Mexican drug cartel. The Power Of The Dog tells an expansive story encompassing multiple decades and over a dozen main characters. It was heavily researched and at times, almost read like a documentary of the Mexican drug trade and their battles with the DEA.
The Winter of Frankie Machine is a much more straightforward mafia crime genre novel.
You have the requisite characters. You have the mafia underbosses chaffing under the orders of their superiors. You have the youngblood up and comers who feel that their time has come. You have dissolute world weary bookies and strippers.
Since this is the twenty-first century, they are all self-aware caricatures that reference lines from Goodfellas, The Godfather, and The Sopranos. They are all under constant surveillance and their power is a mere figment of what it once was. They’re trying to live a lie that was never the truth.
Into this mix of seedy mafia characters enters Frankie Machine. He’s over sixty, still in good shape, and appreciates the finer things in life. He also is apparently John McClane, because absolutely nothing can kill him. He might as well be a Marvel superhero. From a purely dramatic perspective, really nothing unpredictable happens here.
So, why the four stars? Well, for what it is, it’s very well executed. I found it engaging and amusing. The two plots of his past and his present weave together in a well crafted manner. It was executed well and was entertaining to read.