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City on Fire: A Novel

City on Fire: A Novel PDF

Author: Don Winslow

Publisher: William Morrow


Publish Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN-10: 0062851195

Pages: 384

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

Danny Ryan watches the woman come out of the water like a vision
emerging from his dreams of the sea.
Except she’s real and she’s going to be trouble.
Women that beautiful usually are.
Danny knows that; what he doesn’t know is just how much trouble she’s
really going to be. If he knew that, knew everything that was going to
happen, he might have walked into the water and held her head under until
she stopped moving.
But he doesn’t know that.
So, the bright sun striking his face, Danny sits on the sand out in front
of Pasco’s beach house and checks her out from behind the cover of his
sunglasses. Blond hair, deep blue eyes, and a body that the black bikini does
more to accentuate than conceal. Her stomach is taut and flat, her legs
muscled and sleek. You don’t see her fifteen years from now with wide hips
and a big ass from the potatoes and the Sunday gravy.
The woman comes out of the water, her skin glistening with sunshine
and salt.
Terri Ryan digs an elbow into her husband’s ribs.
“What?” Danny asks, all mock-innocent.
“I see you checking her out,” Terri says.
They’re all checking her out—him, Pat and Jimmy, and the wives, too
—Sheila, Angie, and Terri.
“Can’t say I blame you,” Terri says. “That rack.”
“Nice talk,” Danny says.
“Yeah, with what you’re thinking?” Terri asks.
“I ain’t thinking nothing.”
“I got your nothing for you right here,” Terri says, moving her right
hand up and down. She sits up on her towel to get a better view of the
woman. “If I had boobs like that, I’d wear a bikini, too.”
Terri’s wearing a one-piece black number. Danny thinks she looks good
in it.
“I like your boobs,” Danny says.
“Good answer.”
Danny watches the beautiful woman as she picks up a towel and dries
herself off. She must put in a lot of time at the gym, he thinks. Takes care of
herself. He bets she works in sales. Something pricey—luxury cars, or
maybe real estate, or investments. What guy is going to say no to her, try to
bargain her down, look cheap in front of her? Isn’t going to happen.
Danny watches her walk away.
Like a dream you wake up from and you don’t want to wake up, it’s
such a good dream.
Not that he got much sleep last night, and now he’s tired. They hit a
truckload of Armani suits, him and Pat and Jimmy MacNeese, way the hell
up in western Mass. Piece of cake, an inside job Peter Moretti set them up
with. The driver was clued in, everyone did the dance so no one got hurt,
but still it was a long drive and they got back to the shore just as the sun
was coming up.
“That’s okay,” Terri says, lying back on her towel. “You let her get you
all hot and bothered for me.”
Terri knows her husband loves her, and anyway, Danny Ryan is faithful
like a dog. He don’t have it in him to cheat. She don’t mind he looks at
other women as long as he brings it home to her. A lot of married guys, they
need some strange every once in a while, but Danny don’t.
Even if he did, he’d feel too guilty.
They’ve even joked about it. “You’d confess to the priest,” Terri said,
“you’d confess to me, you’d probably take an ad out in the paper to
She’s right, Danny thinks as he reaches over and strokes Terri’s thigh
with the back of his index finger, signaling that she’s right about something
else, that he is hot and bothered, that it’s time to go back to the cottage.
Terri brushes his hand away, but not too hard. She’s horny, too, feeling the
sun, the warm sand on her skin, and the sexual energy brought by the new
It’s in the air, they both feel it.
Something else, too.
Restlessness? Danny wonders. Discontent?
Like this sexy woman comes out of the sea and suddenly they’re not
quite satisfied with their lives.
I’m not, Danny thinks.
Every August they come down from Dogtown to Goshen Beach
because that’s what their fathers did and they don’t know to do anything
else. Danny and Terri, Jimmy and Angie Mac, Pat and Sheila Murphy, Liam
Murphy with his girl of the moment. They rent the little cottages across the
road from the beach, so close to each other you can hear your neighbor
sneeze, or lean out the window to borrow something for the kitchen. But
that’s what makes it fun, the closeness.
None of them would know what to do with solitude. They grew up in
the same Providence neighborhood their parents did, went to school there,
are still there, see each other almost every day and go down to Goshen on
vacation together.
“Dogtown by the Sea,” they call it.
Danny always thinks the ocean should be to the east, but knows that the
beach actually faces south and runs in a gentle arc west about a mile to
Mashanuck Point, where some larger houses perch precariously on a low
bluff above the rocks. To the south, fourteen miles out in the open ocean,
sits Block Island, visible on most clear days. During the summer season,
ferries run all day and into the night from the docks at Gilead, the fishing
village just across the channel.
Danny, he used to go out to Block Island all the time, not on the ferry,
but back before he was married when he was working the fishing boats.
Sometimes, if Dick Sousa was in a good mood, they’d pull into New
Harbor and grab a beer before making the run home.
Those were good days, going after the swordfish with Dick, and Danny
misses them. Misses the little cottage he rented behind Aunt Betty’s Clam
Shack, even though it was drafty and colder than shit in the winter. Misses
walking down to the bar at the Harbor Inn to have a drink with the
fishermen and listen to their stories, learn their wisdom. Misses the physical
work that made him feel strong and clean. He was nineteen and strong and
clean and now he ain’t none of those things; a layer of fat has grown around
his middle and he ain’t sure he could throw a harpoon or haul in a net.
You look at Danny now, in his late twenties, his broad shoulders make
him appear a little shorter than his six feet, and his thick brown hair, tinged
with red, gives him a low forehead that makes him look a little less smart
than he really is.
Danny sits on the sand and looks at the water with a yearning. The most
he does now is go in and have a swim or bodysurf if there are any waves,
which is unusual in August unless there’s a hurricane brewing.
Danny misses the ocean when he’s not here.
It gets in your blood, like you got salt water running through you. The
fishermen Danny knows love the sea and hate it, say it’s like a cruel woman
who hurts you over and over again but you keep going back to her anyway.
Sometimes he thinks maybe he should go back to fishing, but there’s no
money in it. Not anymore, with all the government regulations and the
Japanese and Russian factory ships sitting thirteen miles off the coast and
taking up all the cod and the tuna and the flounder and the government
don’t do shit about them, just keeps its thumb on the local guy.
Because it can.
So now Danny just comes down from Providence in August with the
rest of the gang.
Mornings they get up late, eat breakfast in their cottages, then cross the
road and spend the day gathered on the beach in front of Pasco’s place, one
of about a dozen clapboard houses set on concrete pylons near the
breakwater on the east end of Goshen Beach.
They set up beach chairs, or just lie on towels, and the women sip wine
coolers and read magazines and chat while the men drink beer or throw in a
fishing line. There’s always a nice little crowd there, Pasco and his wife and
kids and grandkids, and the whole Moretti crew—Peter and Paul Moretti,
Sal Antonucci, Tony Romano, Chris Palumbo and wives and kids.
Always a lot of people dropping by, coming in and out, having a good
Rainy days they sit in the cottages and do jigsaw puzzles, play cards,
take naps, shoot the shit, listen to the Sox broadcasters jaw their way
through the rain delay. Or maybe drive into the main town two miles inland
and see a movie or get an ice cream or pick up some groceries.

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