My William Boyle journey has been an interesting one. I’ve tried to read Gravesend three separate times with no success. They have the feel of those George Pelecanos style character-driven crime tales that I feel like I should enjoy more than I do, in part because the writer is too close to their home territory to let the story breathe.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I finally sat down and finished The Lonely Witness, which I found to be fine but lacking, aside from a great protagonist. It did encourage me to eventually try City of Margins and that one I couldn’t put down. Which led to this…
Man, this book was fun. Just pure fun, at times bonkers. It’s a story worthy of the rich characters Boyle creates, here the typical sad sacks and low level mafiosi based in Brooklyn (and this time, the Bronx). He sets the stage and when the story accelerates, it really doesn’t start.
At the heart of it though is the bonds the characters develop. This could have easily been a kind of obnoxiously condescending “Look at us crazy broads!” tale written from a male perspective but Boyle makes you care about the actors and that gives the story real stakes. I was rooting for the three female leads right to the end.
So: great story, great setting, great characters. Definitely the best thing I’ve read from Boyle and one of the best things I’ve read in 2020. I guess the only thing left to do is finally tackle Gravesend and wait for his next book.