By William Boyle


Publisher: Pegasus Crime (September, 2018)
Format: Hardcover
Price: $25.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-68177-849-5

Kindle edition:  $12.99

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Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
(November, 2018)


Conway D’Innocenzio has had sixteen years to plan his revenge on Ray Boy Calabrese, and he’s finally getting his chance. Ray Boy was sent to prison for his part in the death of Conway’s brother. He’s out now, and coming home to Gravesend. Conway’s been stuck since he lost Duncan, working a dead end job at Rite Aid, living with his dad at age twenty-nine, getting drunk with his best friend McKenna, an ex-cop, most nights. Now he’s got a gun, courtesy of his buddy, and he knows where Ray Boy is hiding out.

When he confronts Ray Boy, things do not go as planned. Ray Boy is no longer the tough, bold, violent man he once was. He is broken, sorry for his crimes, ready for Conway to deliver the final blow. Conway can’t bring himself to take the life of such a pitiful soul, and he drives away, confused and unfulfilled.

Ray Boy returns to Gravesend, to the streets and the people of this Italian-American enclave in Brooklyn. His fifteen-year-old nephew Eugene is over the moon. He has always idolized his uncle and is trying to follow in his footsteps, committing petty crimes and giving his family a hard time. He hates the fancy Catholic school he’s been forced to attend, he hates the teachers, he hates everything and everybody except his best friend Sweat. Sweat comes from a wealthy family, and Eugene wants to have all the nice things his friend has.

He is shattered and angry when Ray Boy, now a meek shadow of himself, tells him to stop his life of crime. Instead, he goes on a crime spree, planning to rob some very dangerous men. He wants to take up where Ray Boy left off, with disastrous consequences.

Alessandra Biagini returns home to regroup after a failed attempt to become a star in Hollywood. Her mother has just died, and her father is a wreck.  Looking for action, she hits the local bars, accompanied by schoolmate Stephanie Dirello. Stephanie is another young adult with no ambition, living with her controlling mother. She’s still a virgin, but is hoping Conway will relieve her of that burden. Conway has a long-standing crush on Alessandra, who only has disdain for him. No good will come of these unrequited loves.

There are crimes in GRAVESEND, but the heart of the story is the neighborhood and the people who are bound to it. The setting is a major part of that story, but it is most certainly character-driven. The Italian-American inhabitants of Gravesend come across as totally believable. The dialog used is spot-on, without any hint of caricature. The characters live lives of quiet desperation. Only Alessandra has had the gumption to leave the neighborhood, and she returns home in defeat. She’s seen what lies outside Gravesend, but she can’t leave the mindset behind. This debut novel is written in the best tradition of noir, comparable to the best works of Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane. William Boyle should soon join them at the top of the genre if his next books are as good as GRAVESEND. Recommended.

Copyright 2018 Shirley Wetzel. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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