City of Dreams
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
“Strong men are not the ones you have to worry about, it’s weak men that you have to worry about, putting authority and power in the hands of weak people, because when people who never had anything throughout their life, now have power over you, boy do they abuse it.”
― Michael Franzese
City of Dreams is my second book by the fabulous Don Winslow, and also the second book in the Danny Ryan trilogy, an Irish gangster from Rhode Island who is just sly enough to keep himself ahead of his enemies. This book begins a few hours after the events of City on Fire took place and Danny Ryan is on the run with his newborn son, having spent the last few hours at the hospital with his dying wife. After killing a dirty FBI officer and throwing millions in the ocean, he knows the feds and Italian mob will be right on his tail. Danny and his cohorts have lost the gang war and they are leaving Providence forever.
Interestingly, it’s the government that makes first contact with Danny, after he lives in San Diego, and then Las Vegas with his estranged mother. They make him an offer he can’t refuse with millions of dollars and his slate wiped clean. All he has to do is take down a dangerous Mexican cartel. It is hard to pass up because the contact suggests that his friends and family would be in jeopardy if he refuses the deal. Danny’s journey brings him from San Diego to Las Vegas to Hollywood and back. Along the way he loses friends, meets a beautiful woman, has a movie made about the gang wars of Providence and falls in love with a troubled movie actress.
As with the first book in this trilogy, there are so many characters that sometimes it is hard to keep them straight. Winslow still brings us up to date on those who stayed in Rhode Island while following everyone in California. But the focus is Danny and his crew “lying low”. There is less focus on the mob and more on their fresh start, though a lot of violence and crime, as with the first book. Despite the author being such a fabulous storyteller, there was a lot of bouncing around with all the unique characters and the side plots. Like Tony Soprano, Danny struggles with his conscience a lot and his ability to be a good father to baby Ian. This piece of City of Dreams is truly compelling. This novel is a saga of family, what is right and wrong but also survival and revenge. While it was not quite what I was expecting, it was interesting and addicting just the same. There are so many moving moments, but also vicious gory crime scenes. The reader knows Danny has a mark on his head so we are constantly waiting for the scene where they finally get him! I know that the third in this trilogy is Don Winslow’s last goodbye to literature and I can’t wait to see how it all ends!
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