William Boyle has done it again.
I don’t know if he’ll ever write anything as delightfully manic as A Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself. But as long as he keeps doing these Brooklyn-based character driven crime stories, I’m a happy reader.
This one is familiar if you’ve read his others but you don’t need to in order to dive in. They’re loosely connected so you can start anywhere.
Boyle uses the template of a crime novel to create a world of south Brooklyn that he knows all too well, where the people are always losers who desperately wish to escape their situation even though they know they probably can’t. It’s like he’s rewriting Mean Streets every time but his characters always feel fresh.
He even takes the risk here on expanding to more POV characters and it works. His writing style is such that all of these people feel unique, their circumstances lived in. They’re drawn to things that they want for reasons they don’t understand, mobilizing in this decaying community where everyone around them is waiting for their number to be called for a funeral mass at the local parish and a grave in Queens or Long Island.
This is probably my second favorite of his. Mostly everything worked. I don’t know how much I bought that young women were comfortable going to this old guy’s decrepit house for respite but Boyle’s so good, I could go the leap just to get to the point. Everything builds up to the heart breaking conclusion which is unpredictable and left me feeling maudlin but in a good way. I hope he keeps churning these books out.