Sunday, August 21, 2011

PORT CITY BLACK AND WHITE: Dark and Tender Crime Fiction from Maine Author Gerry Boyle

Official release Sept. 16, but NOW available.
Brandon Blake, the police wannabe from Port City Shakedown -- first of Gerry Boyle's second, and grimmer, series, this one in Portland, Maine -- has made it onto the force at last. But he's still a rookie, partners with his ultra-fit training office Kat, and his emotions run high and stormy. Raised by his grandmother for the worst of reasons, Brandon's "inner child" is raging. Unfortunately, he's got little control of that emotional demon. And when a new mom who's a long-time druggie with nasty boyfriends turns out to have really "lost" her baby -- taken from the filthy apartment somehow -- Brandon's lack of control becomes a liability to his work.

With Kat, he questions a street-living woman named Lizzie, hoping that older woman might have noticed something that could help with the case. She's not exactly on target, though.
"Nah. Ain't seen nothin'. Got f*in' gum, Blake?"
"I got gum, Lizzie." He reached into his shirt pocket, took out a pack. Held it out and the old woman snatched it away, stuffed it somewhere under her layers. Sweatshirt, sweaters, greasy parka.

"You think of something you forgot, you give a shout, honey," Kat said.

"I had a baby," Lizzie said. "Gestapo took it."

"Sorry," Brandon said.

"Had the devil in her," the old woman said. "You gotta drive a stake in 'em. You gotta drive a stake through their little hearts."

She smiled, not quite toothless. They looked at her uneasily, got back in the cruiser.

"There's a birth mother you don't want to go searching for," Brandon said.

"I guess," Kat said.

"So where do you think it is?"

"The baby?"


"I don't know," Kat said.

"Maybe [the mother] killed him, by accident," Brandon said. "Got rid of the body. Or maybe one of the crackheads killed him, took the body with him when he left, tossed it in the trunk."

"Jeez, Blake," Kat said. "Glass half empty or what?"
For sure, Brandon Blake lives with the glass half empty. The only part of his life that's sweet lately is the part he shares with his girlfriend Mia, who fell for him during the events of Port City Shakedown. But with Brandon's simmering anger and determination to find the baby, punish crime, find and arrest evildoers -- even when off-duty -- he's not exactly contributing to a balanced home life. And he's making problems for the police team, too.

Things get even more tense when Mia brings home new, classy, restaurant-oriented friends, socializing with them on the boat where she and Brandon live, and leaving him dangling as the one who's not much use for the parties. His misery makes the rookie cop try even harder to pursue leads on the baby's disappearance, and other grim realities of the poverty/drugs world at the foulest edges of town.

Boyle is an experienced author, whose Jack McMorrow crime series has already honed his sense of pace and tension, and his ability to portray both the desperation of poverty and drug use, and the tenderness of family and friendship when they're allowed to blossom from the rank soil. The Brandon Blake Port City series will be a classic, showing the reality of New England coast life -- a mix of myth and painful reality. Brandon's chances for redemption don't look good, but somehow people end up giving him a chance ... and he may yet solve the case. Whether he'll still have a girlfriend by the end, well, that's another matter. So is the physical safety of everyone involved with him and his dangerous path.

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