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City on Fire


City on Fire

As a fan of Don Winslow, I know that he is capable of writing utterly captivating fiction and spinning a compelling yarn. So I was eager to dive into his latest novel, CITY ON FIRE. This opening installment in his new trilogy is a retelling of the Iliad and is set in the year 1986 on the shore of Rhode Island.

Goshen Beach is the site for the big clambake party to honor mob boss Pasco Ferri. It’s a time for rival Irish and Italian gangs from Dogtown to get together; as Homer said, “Take your meal, now; we prepare for combat.” Danny Ryan is our Aeneas figure; he has married into the Murphy mob family as his wife, Terri, is the daughter of John Murphy. He is best friends with John's son, Pat, and carries his own weight with the family. He is also wise enough to remain friendly with their Italian counterparts, like the Morettis.

"CITY ON FIRE is a real barn burner that sees Danny Ryan looking into the sun, imagining what the future will bring for him."

The trouble between the Murphys and Morettis begins at the clambake and is, of course, over a woman. The sexy beach bombshell Danny and his Irish brethren had caught sight of earlier turns up at the party in the arms of Paulie Moretti.  Of all the heads that Pam turns, none turns as hard as that of Pat’s younger brother, Liam, a notorious troublemaker and wannabe ladies’ man. After drunkenly groping Pam’s breast, Liam is nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat at the hands of a group from Paulie's gang. Pasco does not approve of the attack and offers to pick up half of Liam’s hospital bill if he survives. Of course, the Murphys want revenge, and the war has begun.

Not only does Liam survive the beating, he shows up to a family event with Pam and claims to have just married her in Vegas. Now the vitriol between the Irish and Italian mobs will see no end. After a meeting between the Murphys and Morettis, Liam has Paulie shot in the knee to add even more fuel to the fire. At this point, the Italians will not be satisfied without Liam’s head on a platter. Paulie's brother, Peter, approaches Danny and asks him to back away as their fight is with the Murphys, not him. If he does, they promise him that he will be treated fairly in the new family agreement. Danny agrees to give up Liam. However, there is more to the story here than meets the eye.

CITY ON FIRE is a real barn burner that sees Danny Ryan looking into the sun, imagining what the future will bring for him. I am right there next to him, eagerly awaiting the trials and tribulations that he will be forced to undergo in the middle part of this impressive saga.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 29, 2022

City on Fire
by Don Winslow

  • Publication Date: March 14, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062851179
  • ISBN-13: 9780062851178