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    Don Winslow's book 'City in Ruins' will be his last. He is retiring to fight MAGA

    By Theo Faherty,


    Don Winslow has written more than 25 novels and is considered to be one of the world's best crime writers. His latest series was adapted to film by Sony Pictures and will star Austin Butler. This week’s publication of the third installment in Winslow’s Danny Ryan trilogy, “City in Ruins,” will not only finish the series but also his writing career.

    At 70, Winslow will now shift his main focus to political activism as he looks to combat the MAGA political movement through advocacy and making videos. He’s spent the past few years writing novels – and fighting for democracy, including making viral videos with Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Daniels.

    Winslow labels Donald Trump and his followers “a severe threat to our democracy.” He says that with his completion of the trilogy as well as the current political situation he thought “yeah, this is the time to let it go, and focus on the activism.”

    He also believes the timing was right to retire from writing given the current political climate, as well as this final series taking him “thirty years to write, on and off.” Winslow drew influence from Greek and Latin classics, "The Iliad," "The Aeneid," and "The Odyssey," mentioning that he read “three or four translations” of each, as well as taking “online college courses on each of those works."

    However, this should not discourage any potential readers as Winslow says, “I tried to write a crime epic that you could read with no knowledge of or reference to the classics at all.”
    Don Winslow's last book in the Danny Ryan trilogy is "City in Ruins." Robert Gallagher

    The Danny Ryan trilogy

    The last installment in Winslow’s Danny Ryan series “City in Ruins” (HarperCollins, 400 pp., out Tuesday) is largely set in Las Vegas, detailing a power struggle among major players on the Las Vegas strip. Funnily enough, from his office in southern California, Winslow tells USA TODAY: “By the way I don’t gamble. It bores the hell out of me.”
    "City in Ruins" is the final installment in the Danny Ryan trilogy by Don Winslow. William Morrow

    The trilogy follows Ryan through the majority of his life, from union dock worker to Irish mob soldier and later boss, to Hollywood investor using stolen drug money and later multimillionaire casino owner.

    It follows book two, "City of Dreams" and the first, "City on Fire."
    "City on Fire" is the first in the Danny Ryan trilogy by Don Winslow. William Morrow
    "City of Dreams" is the second in the Danny Ryan trilogy by Don Winslow. William Morrow

    “City in Ruins” starts with Ryan in a much easier place than in the previous novels: he is not fighting a mob war, fleeing from the FBI or hitmen, nor is he ripping off a psychopathic cartel leader’s safehouses. Ryan is a casino and hotel mogul in Las Vegas. His main problems include “the bonus 10 pounds he’s gained from living a mostly sedentary life at a desk” and planning his son’s 10th birthday party.

    Ryan is one of the three most powerful men in the Vegas casino industry and knows he doesn’t have to work another day in his life, but for the ex-longshoreman and someone described by his business associates as a “chowderhead," this idea is no less than nauseating.

    With a business opportunity arising on the strip with land becoming available for another hotel casino, Ryan must decide if he wants to sit back and let his business rival become the most powerful man in Vegas, or gamble his future by striking at this casino opportunity at the last minute.

    The struggle for the new casino is more trouble than Ryan could have imagined, bringing up old mob ties, unknown family history, backstabbings, battles of ego, and plenty of misunderstandings from the rumor mill among Vegas’s major players.

    Winslow admits this final conflict contributed to the series being a work in progress spanning essentially his entire writing career. The first novel in the series, “City on Fire” came out in 2022, but he started it in the ’90s.

    Winslow felt another romantic conflict would be “repetitive both with the Illiad and what I’d written in the first book,” but he admits he struggled to figure out a final conflict for this novel. Winslow says that it finally occurred to him that the final conflict should be over a piece of property, and that revelation took him “an embarrassingly long time to realize.”

    “City in Ruins” also follows Chris Palumbo in his cross-country journey brought on by losing mobsters' money, and later returning to Rhode Island in an attempt to regain his throne, and was inspired by Odysseus. Peter Morretti Jr., also returns and faces trial in Rhode Island for the alleged murder of his mother and her lover, mirroring "The Oresteia" by Aeschylus. When asked what prompted him to be influenced by the Oresteia cycle, he says, “I couldn’t resist, it feels like a noir film."

    Winslow’s final series ending in Providence feels ideal as he grew up in Providence, where “the New England gang wars were in the newspapers, and topics of conversations, you know, you knew about it.”

    Looking back on Winslow's career

    It's a long way from where he started. Winslow’s first novel was published in 1991, written over 3 ½ years while traveling for work and studies. He told USA TODAY his first book was rejected by 15 publishes before “St. Martins press bought it and the next one for a total of $15,000” and says, while chuckling, that after years of work on those two, he would “hate to calculate how much he made hourly”.

    Find your next read Check out USA TODAY's bestselling bookslist

    Winslow went on to publish over 20 more novels and won countless awards.

    He has written for television shows and video games, had two novels adapted to the screen, and has four more novels in the process of being adapted to film. Even considering all this, Winslow remains humble, saying he can still worry: “I read Richard Russo and I think ‘Why do I bother to write?’”

    Winslow says that beyond monetary figures, he will personally deem his novel a success, “if it has authenticity, if the characters and story ring true, and make an emotional connection to the readers.”

    Throughout the interview, authenticity and connection seem to be part of Winslow’s entire being, exemplified by his extensive research for this final series.

    Before we hang up, Winslow starts on his next chapter. He encourages Americans to get out and vote in city, state, and federal elections, make contributions if possible, and probably most importantly: "get out and talk to your friends and your neighbors."

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Don Winslow's book 'City in Ruins' will be his last. He is retiring to fight MAGA

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