The Winter of Frankie Machine, my first of what I hope will become more such novels by this writer, makes wonderful use of the various sub-cultures here of crime, power, and surfdom living amongst the palm trees and beaches of SoCal. His sympathetic anti-hero, one Frankie Machianno, makes a good, quiet life for himself as the bait shop guy to the locals. And though the retired mob hit man remains active with his other, legitimate businesses, Frankie keeps a lot of secrets. "It's a lot of work being me." And it's here that I'll agree with a Publishers Weekly write-up (posted at Amazon). Winslow's writing should bring on familiar echoes of another great crime-thriller author I've enjoyed, Elmore Leonard. His characters and plotting are that good. Plus, he uses a good bit of actual local crime history in his work (this is especially true for those like me who've lived in this area and can recall some of the newspaper headlines from decades past).
In looking at the audiobook that I listened to (produced by Blackstone Audio) for this work, the publisher did solid work in choosing veteran character actor Dennis Boutsikaris to voice this book. The actor has good range in his characterizations, especially for those gangsters of the East Coast variety. Boutsikaris' Newark, New Jersey background surely helped with those vocalizations. Plus, his tenor and delivery of Winslow's lively and descriptive wording is a very pleasing one for those taking it in via audio. Unfortunately, there was a downside to this audiobook (especially for me)--and it's the publishers fault, not the reader's. For those like me who shift media for listening convenience--that is move the audio to my iPod--it's an irritating one. The studio managers choose to have the narrator announce the beginning and end for each of the 8 unabridged audio CDs.
Let's be clear... not all audiobook publishers do this, mind you. Thankfully. It jolts story continuity for the listener, big time. Now, I'm sure that the MP3 version (Blackstone being one of the handful that produce them) of this novel doesn't perform this service. And if I could have gotten my hands on that version, I wouldn't even be writing about it, now. I know why publishers do it - it signals to those that listen to the actual CD themselves when to pop out the disc and drop in the next (correct) one. And yes, some CD decks (like those in automobiles) will just begin replaying the disc if you don't eject them. But, this really doesn't play well with others, especially when disc ejection is not part of their normal audiobook experience. Criminy! It's that insert-eject-insert rigmarole [puzzle word... thanks for that, Don] that drove to me to media shift in the first place.
Okay... (as he steps off his curmudgeon-tech soapbox) that aside, I look forward to obtaining and reading more books by Mr. Winslow. His is a creative voice I'm going to seek out (a must, really). Between his plotting, keen/humorous observations and wording, and just damn interesting story-lines, I can see myself coming back to this author on a regular basis. And after this book, and a post by Nordette Adams, I'm reminded that Elmore Leonard has a new book out this week, too.