Cover Image: City on Fire

City on Fire

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Member Reviews

Providence, Rhode Island in the late 80s. Italian mob vs. Irish mob. Lots of killing and double-crossing and more killing. 

I don’t tend to like mafia/organized crime stories in general - just a bunch of psychotic men doing stupid, violent things to each other and talking about family and loyalty and snore. But I’m glad I gave this one a shot because it was fast-paced and intense, and I ended up kind of caring about what happened to some of the psychotic, violent men in the end. 

It took me a little while to get into the story, and I had to flip back frequently and remind myself who was who. A family tree/org chart would have been helpful (which I know sounds ridiculous, but whatever.)

Also, the women characters were pretty flat overall - the slutty woman who ruined everything, the other slutty woman who got rich but abandoned her family, the suffering wife, the sister. 

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I’m curious to see what happens next (and maybe the women will do something interesting)? 

Recommended for existing Don Winslow fans and anyone who likes a bloodbath.
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Loved it, read it in two days. As a fan of the author's work, it lives a little bit in the shadow of his previous trilogy, and even his most recent stand-alone novel; but still, it's remarkably intricate, exciting, funny. If it's missing one of Winslow's narrative trademarks, it's the huge amount of social/political insight of her recent work.

That aside, CITY ON FIRE is a brilliant introduction to a promising trilogy.
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Wow!!! City on Fire is sublime!!!

Folks, Don Winslow has done it again! Die-hard Winslow fans you’re in for a real treat, and for the newcomers, there’s no turning back.

City on Fire is masterful crime fiction of epic proportions with heart-palpitating and page-turning suspense. Winslow returns with his characteristic fearless, unapologetic, gritty, bold, full-of-heart, holds-nothing-back, and authentic writing style. To call it simply atmospheric and cinematic would be robbing it of its glory, so buckle up, you’re about to get thrown into the midst of an all-out gang war between the Irish and Italian mob factions in Providence, Rhode Island, circa the 1980s. And the good news is, this series is about to be shopped for the big screen. 

In brief, City on Fire is the start of a three-book saga,  of ‘The Godfather’ caliber, that will span generations. At the center is Danny Ryan, whose father used to control the Irish syndicate in the upper southside, known as Dogtown, and chronicles his harrowing journey through the anger, pain, grief, fear, and chaos that ensues when his brother-in-law inadvertently triggers an all-out war after fondling a made guy’s woman (a big no-no). This simple sign of disrespect is enough to irrevocably transform the balance of power and disrupt the harmony that has existed between the Irish and Italian criminal empires for decades. There’s nothing like a drop-dead gorgeous bombshell to get in the way of business and relationships, right? Right. 

Winslow weaves together richly layered characters, personal struggles, blunders, vendettas, and individual ambition to make this story relatable to the non-criminally inclined reader. The story is seamlessly told from multiple perspectives, the dialogue is gritty and authentic, the story is jam-packed with gut-wrenching tension and twists, and Winslow’s pacing is, as always, exquisitely timed. For fans of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦  and 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘭  trilogy, Winslow has again toyed with the narrative of the good guy trying to survive when the odds are stacked up against him, and the consequences of making choices when right and wrong aren’t always black and white. Except, in City on Fire, Winslow weaves 2,000-year-old Greek mythology with contemporary crime fiction and injects the classic themes of honor, courage, cowardice, loyalty, betrayal, and tragedy into a stunning climax. This is not to be missed. 

“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘶𝘯𝘴 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘭 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘭. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘰, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵…”

City on Fire is impressive. It doesn’t get better than this. Winslow’s writing is elevated by an air of intelligence, and he will completely immerse you in a realistic apocalyptic hell of warring mobsters and wise guys; Winslow doesn’t hold anything back and has mastered the art of entertaining and educating like no other. City on Fire offers you a window into these cultures, communities, and the criminal underworld.

This is a novel of substance, and you can burn through it, but you won’t walk away unharmed. This one will leave you with a massive hangover. Are you ready?
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I always open a new Don Winslow novel eagerly, but this one, the first in a planned trilogy about two families who rule the criminal  underbelly of Providence Rhode Island underwhelmed me . It's not just that New England - particularly this corner of it - doesn't have the same aura of unlimited possibilities as southern California, or even the weather , but the Murphys and Morettis are fuller and less interesting than Winslow's usual cast of characters  There's not much of a plot - the two families live in relative peace, having divided the city's rackets between them in a laissez faire manner that approaches friendship, until Liam Murphy makes a move on Paulie Moretti's date and a drunken dispute morphs into a bloody, violent end   In the meantime, not much happens, and Winslow's usually masterful plotting, pacing and characterizations are missing in (in)action . Maybe there's enough here to warrant moving ahead a few decades and generations in the remaining two books, but if this first one is an indication, Winslow's many fans will be disappointed
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I've read a few of Don Winslow's book, but this is by far my favorite. It is an amazing crime/mob novel that you will absolutely devour. I read it in a couple days and all the times I wasn't reading it, I found myself wishing I WAS reading it.

This dialogue is amazing. So many examples of the mob guys hilarious breaking each other's balls. If you like mob stories, you'll love it.

I received a free e-galley of this book in return for this review.
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While it was slow going at the beginning, this mob-novel picked up and was riveting.  It follows a few years in the life of Danny Ryan, part of the Irish Murphy Gang which controls parts of Providence, RI, including the docks and its Union.  They have an agreeable peace, and are almost friends, with the Italian mobsters who have most all the rest of Providence, that is until they don't.  Then it s all out war in true mob style.  Definitely for fans of Mario Puzo and similar Godfatheresque tales, including The Sopranos.
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Don Winslow writes in the most American voice I've read since Norman Mailer and James Ellroy. And since James Ellroy took the long slide into self-parody, we desperately need an authentic American voice writing contemporary literature.

Winslow used to write about the west coast, then he wrote about the southern border, and finally he moved on to the east coast. Doesn't matter.  Don Winslow isn't a regional novelist. He's a national novelist. Every time I start worrying about what is becoming of my country, I go back and read some Winslow, and I feel better. I understand again how it will always survive in our people, the people that Winslow chronicles.

Keep doing what you're doing, Don. We need you more than ever, man.
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This was such a pleasure to read, and I’m thrilled to know it’s the start of a new series.  The combination of history, and the excitement of gangsters is my recipe to success, and I can’t wait to share about the book as I wait for the next installment.
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Ho hum, another stunner by one of our greatest living authors.  Happy, inescapable quicksand on Page 1 pulled me right in--or down, I guess.  Winslow's mastery of creating and managing a full cast of characters all in service of the story is unparalleled.    Already dreading the wait for the next ride with Danny and his crew.  (Almost let a minor spoiler slip there.)    And angsting over whether or not Hollywood will manage to goof this one up.
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Don Winslow follows up his harrowing Cartel Trilogy with one of the best crime thrillers I’ve read in years! City on Fire is an ‘80s set loose retelling of Homer’s The Iliad, following a struggle between the Irish and Italian mobs in Providence Rhode Island. It only gets more exciting and heartbreaking with each new chapter, as the toxic masculinity that’s been baked into the hearts of these men from a young age ensures that we’re in for a violent and tragic ending. Each character is given so much depth that it’s hard not to wince whenever guns start going off. I tore through this book in two days, and immediately wanted more. As a huge true crime and murder mystery junkie, this gave me just the kind of suspenseful beach read I was looking for. Even better? This is the first entry in a brand new trilogy, and the fact I have no idea where things can go from here makes me even more anxious to check out the next one! Make sure to check this out when it’s released on September 21st!
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Winslow shows he still is a master story teller at the top of his game.

With realistic characters, an intriguing plot line, and steady pacing… I cannot wait dor the next installment of this trilogy.
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I’ve been stunned into near speechlessness.  Don Winslow’s City on Fire is utterly incredible!  This book delivers the goods and then some.  A masterclass in exceptional storytelling with intense pacing and deep, complex characters thrown into a pressure cooker filled with crime, murder, and mayhem.  An epic start to a new trilogy by one of the best crime writers of all-time.  

City on Fire centers around a mob war between Irish and Italian factions in Providence, Rhode Island in the later half of the 1980’s.  All it took was a tiny spark of perceived disrespect between made men, initiated by the introduction of a gorgeous woman, to blow up previously cordial business dealings and tranquil personal relationships.  The result is a vicious game of one-upmanship with escalating violence and retribution that leaves a wake of dead bodies across New England with no real winner.  Only pain and suffering on every side.

City on Fire explores numerous themes like family, honor, loyalty, values and codes, love and loss in the way that only Don Winslow can – through the creation of realistic characters that are put into impossible situations where choices are fraught with dangerous consequences no matter the decision.  And while Don might be telling a tale that shines a spotlight on the psyche and actions of old school wise guys, he does so in a way that’s easy relatable for everyday men and women even if they’re normal upstanding citizens who wouldn’t know a gumar from an envelope or a no-show job.  Because all of us understand and have firsthand experience with the importance of family, of having your friend’s back, of unconditional love, of making hard and sometimes unpopular decisions, and of unbearably heartbreaking loss.  Which creates a strong emotional connection between the reader and the characters, allowing us to really experience what’s happening to those on the page and sometimes even sympathize with, or even root for, hardened criminals who we’d ordinarily say deserved a heaping serving of karma.

And holy hell is this novel well-written.  Don is a genius with the pen.  Everything is sublime.  The setup, transitions, details, dialogue, action, character development, and pacing are all exquisite.  Throw in several huge twists to go along with gut wrenching conflict that you see coming but are powerless to stop and its near perfection.  A cinematic masterpiece in hardcover form.

The best books always leave you with a book hangover as you contemplate what just occurred.  Well, City on Fire does that and more.  Like the aftermath of a week-long bender in Vegas with the boys, this book will stick with you for a long time.  

I look forward with great anticipation to City of Dreams, the next installment of this blockbuster story.  My only hope is that September 2022 hurries up and gets here already.  The wait is going to be brutal and I’m dying to know what happens next!
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City on Fire is a tremendously captivating crime thriller that goes back to the days of Irish and Italian mobs in the 80s when the tempers were high and blood was in the air. Don Winslow kicks off his latest thriller with a beautifully described fleeting moment of peace and tranquility for the characters before a spark lights the fuse for a bloody war between the two crime syndicates in a desperate tug of war for power. Once you turn the first page, all bets are off.
Danny Ryan yearns for a better life than being a longshoreman and muscle for the Irish crime syndicate in Providence, Rhode Island. His grounded thoughts for self-actualization and freedom relate to the desire in every man and woman to reach out for something beyond what they settle for in absence of better opportunities. His seemingly mundane destiny takes a big detour when a woman upsets the thinly held peace between the Irish and the Italians, leading to a small scale tit-for-tat matched altercations that quickly escalate into an out-of-control conflict once the first body drops. There is simply no time to rest once bullets start flying and hits are sanctioned on both sides of the syndicate along with double crosses and corrupt police officials, the fusion of all elements creating a highly unstable and unpredictable powder keg of explosive events.
City on Fire’s macabre narrative owes its gut-wrenching brutality to the highly grounded and realistic characters who go through horrible situations. Don Winslow writes his stories and characters in shades of gray where battle rages between evil and lesser evil. Powerful and natural dialogues accompany believably selfish drives befitting imperfect characters, giving the story a distinctive non-fiction flavor. It appeals to fans of crime thrillers with corrupt souls and dark events as much as it appeals to anyone who simply picks up the book with no idea of what to expect; Don Winslow writes for the readers regardless of what genre one prefers. A magnificently horrifying thriller that ingeniously sets up a brand-new crime saga with scope and grit unparalleled by any other series except Don Winslow’s The Cartel trilogy.
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