Friday, September 24, 2010

The "Other" Gerry Boyle Series: Brandon Blake, Maine Noir

Tomorrow (9/25) is Gerry Boyle's visit here at Kingdom Books. "Excited" underestimates the mood -- and I've got a to-do list that I could have wrapped breakfast in, which would have been a good thing really, considering that I forgot to schedule breakfast today. Seating to put in place, bookjackets to slide into fresh bright archival over-jackets, culinary tasks (blueberry muffins, finger sandwiches, cookies, cider). And most of all, of course, confirming who'll be here among the usual guest of the shop, chatting about Boyle and his writing with them, making a list of signed books needed for anyone who can't make it tomorrow but wants to be sure their copies are set aside.

OK, so I talk a lot when the list is long. But what I want to mention is, somehow I pried open the hours last night in order to snuggle in with the Other Side of this author: the first book in his second series, PORT CITY SHAKEDOWN, featuring wannabe cop (intern at this stage) Brendan Blake.

Major discovery: Gerry Boyle opened an entirely different kind of ink (or blood) for this book than for his first series. The first series, from Deadline to Damaged Goods, is a classic detective series embraced by Robert B. Parker, Tess Gerritsen, C. J. Box -- the folks who write strong traditional work.

The Brandon Blake series, though, turns out to be Really Really Dark. It probes the shadow side of coastal life, of petty crooks turned nastier during each jail stretch, and even of the "harmless" drug scenes of twenty years ago, when pot still got attention in law enforcement, before meth labs were part of the local fire department's training scene. I mean, Blake is just 22, but he's dealt all his life with a missing-presumed-dead mother, no dad around, an alcoholic grandmother ... and now, on practically his first toe-dip into crime, he's got a pyschopath threatening him and the people he cares about.

Rather than do a long write-up here, I'll refer you to Boyle's blog, the section of it that's geared to Blake and the strange parts of Boyle's own life that seem to recapitulate fiction (but strangely, strangely).

Yep, Dave rounded up some copies of PORT CITY SHAKEDOWN for tomorrow, too. Buy 'em if you dare. Keep your "Maglite" heavy-duty flashlight handy. And oh yes, this is definitely written with the same skill and quiet intensity that makes Boyle's first series such a pleasure to read.

No comments: