top of page

THIS IS THE END: DON WINSLOW'S CITY OF RUINS

Not only is City In Ruins Don Winslow's final book in his gangland trilogy featuring Danny Ryan, a soldier in Providence, Rhode Island's Irish mob, fighting to change family history, it could be his last book ever. Don announced he would be retiring from writing books, after he finished up the trilogy to the sadness of many fans. This novel feels like it's written by a man who sees it as his last.


We start with Danny on top of the world. He operates a handful of luxury hotels on The Vegas Strip. Winslow brings in most of the the characters and set up Godfather style at a lavish birthday party for his son, Ian. We are introduced to his partners in the Tara group and reintroduced to members of his old crew like the lethal loose cannon brothers, The Altar Boys. While he is all about the future, he cannot just drop his past.


Now he plans to build his dream hotel, Il Sogno. The first hurdle is the owner of the property needed has already made a deal with the Tara's main competitor, Vern Winegard. Though he doesn't feel right about it, he approaches the owner and brings up the history the man had with Danny's mafia associate Pasco Ferri, He gets the hotel, but ignites a war with Winegard, aided by a rogue FBI agent, who after forceful business and political maneuvers, he gets in touch with his former mob connection, the sadistic Allie Licata.


Winslow crafts a story with many players and moving and at least two subplots. We don't just follow Danny, he follows the the fallout of Peter Moretti Jr.'s murder of his stepfather and mother responsible for his father's death and the former underboss Chris Palumbo coming out of hiding. Neither plots tie back to Danny's story much , but they wrap up the loose ends from the the first two books, play into the all over themes, and are well told. He touches on the courtroom and corporate drama as well as the gangster epic. He burns through it all with the tight, semi-poetic prose style he developed for novels like these. His word choice concisely conveys both information and emotion. The technique is both unencumbered as it is literary.


The varying ideas of corruption run through many of Don Winslow's books, whether social, generational, or personal. He shows how crime and political machinations subvert institutions designed to serve the people into ones that exploit them. In The Kings Of Cook, he charted youthful idealism being tempered into cynicism and apathy by compromises in life. He often portrays the struggle of personal values against ambition and survival. City In Ruins, City On Fire and City Of Dreams,ecmpasses it all. Most of City In Ruins is bookended by the demolition implosion of a hotel, destruction from within. However he sees the hope in with the future in the generation following the next, if they can .the understand history of their past, embracing the ones before them, even for their faults.


City In Ruins not only works as a capper to to the trilogy, but Winslow's career. It contains most of his themes as genre loves as well as the techniques and approach to writing he had out of the gate and expanded on. If only he found a way to get some surfing into it.


As like most of his fans, I hope Don Winslow has a change of heart. That said, he created an intricate, entertaining, and moving swan song.



Commentaires


bottom of page