Reviews for City of dreams : a novel

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A gangster heads to LA in this bleak sequel to City on Fire (2022). It's 1988. Recently widowed drug dealer Danny Ryan wants to “get the hell out of Rhode Island,” where the victorious rival Moretti crime family wants him dead. He and a few buddies steal millions of dollars’ worth of the Morettis’ heroin, which he dumps into the ocean. Then they rob the gang of cold, hard cash, lots of it. But Danny won’t kill anyone. “We came for the money, not a massacre, Danny thought. Tens of millions of dollars in cash to start new lives, not keep reliving the old ones.” Then he and his pals head west to Tinseltown. More than anything else, he’d like to protect his young son, Ian, and raise him in a crime-free environment. Perhaps Danny’s estranged mother, Madeleine, can help if he’ll allow it. You’d think he’d keep a low profile, but instead he makes a series of blunders such as investing in a particular movie and boffing a famous actress. Thus, he forgets his old man’s advice: “When you’re on the run, you leave the skirts alone.” Danny is, to play on the book’s favorite profanity, effing inept. (Of course, if he does everything right there is no story, so there’s that.) Instead of leaving his East Coast troubles behind, he brings them along where they metastasize into bloody violence. The story is well crafted but for a deus ex machina ending, and even that is enough of a shocker that readers may not mind. Along the way are a couple of eye-popping twists. And there are some great lines: “I thought Jesus died for my sins…” Danny muses. “Maybe my sins just maxed out Christ’s credit card.” And “Ned Egan has killed more guys than cholesterol.” While the story can stand alone, readers might want to read City on Fire first, as it provides essential background and is the better story. There is a glimmer inside Danny Ryan suggesting he wants to become—could become—a good person if he can only survive. The story has no more violence than many other crime thrillers, but a sense of hopelessness progressively builds. Danny pisses off his enemies, has the FBI’s attention, and brings heartbreak to Hollywood. He may not live to raise his 3-year-old son. Enjoyable despite a few flaws, but damn, it’s dark. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.