BOOK NOOK: Don Winslow adds one last masterful flourish to his distinguished career

Don Winslow has announced that “City in Ruins,” the final book in his current crime trilogy, will be his last novel. Winslow is seventy years old-he’s gracefully bowing out of the novel biz. The two previous books, “City on Fire” and “City of Dreams” were bestsellers and I understand this crime story has already been optioned and will be adapted for film treatments.

In the first novel readers meet Danny Ryan, a member of an Irish crime family in Rhode Island. It was the 1980s, as the book opens Ryan’s cohort has been operating peacefully alongside an Italian crime family. There’s an understanding between the two syndicates that they have divided up their various criminal enterprises so each group has dominance over certain rackets.

Things were going along fine but then a war broke out between them. By the end of that book Danny Ryan flees the east with a few close associates. In the second book Ryan is on the west coast keeping a low profile until he falls in love with a movie star and becomes tabloid fodder.

As the final book, “City in Ruins” begins, the year is 1997 and Ryan has been living in Las Vegas. He is a casino magnate and a very rich man. If you read the previous books you can discover the origins of his wealth and what he did to obtain it. He is very good at his job, business is excellent - he and his partners are hoping to expand and build another casino.

There’s an obstacle, another casino magnate with similar ambitions and only one viable location for a new casino. Both men want it. There’s our tension and the basis for this latest thriller, another turf battle as in the first book, but this one takes place in the desert.

Ryan had been staying out of the spotlight but his expansion plans elicit renewed scrutiny; known mobsters being barred from running gambling businesses. Ryan doesn’t need this attention. There’s a birthday party for Ryan’s young son as the book opens-some of Ryan’s longtime cronies turn up.

One old friend has been a syndicate triggerman. He wasn’t invited to the party because he can be a loose cannon. He starts running his mouth, things he says will come back to haunt Danny Ryan. Ryan’s old pals are mostly helpful to his cause but in this story we see misguided loyalty can really mess things up.

It makes me sad to see great talents going into decline, stubbornly resisting retirement; like former baseball sluggers who can no longer get around on fastballs. Don Winslow is hanging up his literary cleats at the top of his game. This is an epic trilogy inspired by the Greek classics. With “City in Ruin” this author is closing out his writing career by slamming yet another one out of the park.

You can hear my latest interview with Don Winslow for “City in Ruins” on Sunday, April 14 at 10:30am on WYSO (91.3FM).

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

About the Author