Shoot the Moonlight Out by William Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won a free advance copy of this from the publisher in a Twitter contest.
Another year, another excellent novel from William Boyle.
It’s 1996 in Brooklyn, and a couple of teenage boys are just doing the kind of idiotic things that teenage boys do when they inadvertently cause a tragic accident. Cut to the summer of 2001, and that cloud hangs over one of the boys, Bobby, as well as Jack Cornacchia. Jack used to be a small time hit-man/enforcer, but he doesn’t do much of anything anymore until he takes a writing class being held run by Lilly who just graduated college and wants to start a writing career. However, she's uncertain of what to do next, and she's being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, Bobby has started working for a guy who runs a Ponzi scheme masquerading as an investment firm when he meets Francesca, a neighborhood girl who just graduated high school and dreams of making movies. When crazy Charlie French runs across a bag of stolen money and drugs, he leaves it with Max for safe keeping while he tries to cut off any connections between him and the loot.
As people start connecting, things start happening, and while some of these relationships result in some heartwarming bonding, others turn bloody.
This is some of the best literary crime fiction you’ll find out there. Boyle has a knack for bringing these Brooklyn streets to life, and then he populates them with complex characters who are all orbiting each other even if they don’t realize it. Everybody has a rich inner life, and whether it’s quiet but deadly Jack mourning a loss or Charlie visiting a local prostitute to satisfy his own particular kink, it all feels real and authentic.
Small events and chance encounters can cause a string of unintended consequences, some good and some terrible. But as Boyle shows once again, if you have a bunch of people with their own baggage and ambitions, and they interact, the results can make you care about them all.
I read a lot of great books in 2021, and this is one of the best of the bunch.
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