Gravesend by William Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you live in a neighborhood called Gravesend you should probably expect things to be kind of depressing, but damn…
Ray Boy Calabrese is being released from prison after sixteen years for causing the death of Conway’s brother, and Conway wants revenge. Meanwhile, Conway’s old school classmate Alessandra has returned home from LA following the death of her mother, and Ray Boy’s nephew Eugene has heard all the stories about his bad ass uncle and dreams of being a neighborhood legend like him.
I’d read William Boyle’s excellent The Lonely Witness without realizing that it’s a follow-up novel to this one, and while they can be read as self-contained stories I wish I’d read this first because it does add some layers to it. Better late than never though, and this one is just as good, maybe even better in some ways, than that one.
This isn’t the kind of crime novel that the set-up makes it sound like. It’s much more of a Richard Price style of thing with the characters and place being far more important than the plot or action. Boyle does an exceptionally good job at establishing this Brooklyn neighborhood which feels more like a small town then a part of New York in many ways. The characters are all extremely well-done, and all of them feel like confused and sad human beings rather than stereotypes in a book which they easily could have been.
That’s two books from Boyle that I thought were top-notch, and I can’t wait to get to the third which is being released soon.
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