Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Back to Brighton — with a Book Giveaway!

Michael Harvey’s seventh and newest novel, Brighton, was released yesterday by publisher Ecco. As I wrote in a recent Kirkus Reviews column, it offers one hell of a driving story, focusing primarily on two 40-something guys—Kevin Pearce and Bobby Scales—who spent their boyhoods together in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Following a shooting incident, committed in the name of revenge but from which both of those then-teens sought to distance themselves, Kevin went away to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, while Bobby stayed behind and matured into an intimidating bookie. Twenty-six years after the shooting, Kevin learns that his old friend is now the principal suspect in a string of homicides; and though Kevin has successfully avoided Brighton and his remaining family there for years, he finally returns to his old stomping grounds, hoping to learn the truth about Bobby’s criminal complicity and protect the secret they share.

Although Harvey, an investigative reporter and the co-creator/executive producer of A&E-TV’s “groundbreaking forensic series,” Cold Case Files (1999-2006), currently lives in Chicago, Illinois—the setting for most of his fiction (The Governor’s Wife, The Fifth Floor, etc.)—he hails originally from Brighton. In the short piece below, written especially for The Rap Sheet, Harvey recalls that district in northwestern Boston as he knew it, and remarks on how his experiences there when he was young shaped his work on the novel Brighton (which already appears headed for film adaptation):
Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, your childhood is your childhood until you grow up. Then it becomes something else. For a writer, that something else is literature and, in my case, a backdrop for the best kind of literature … a crime novel.

I grew up in Brighton. It’s an edge neighborhood, which means it’s part of the city of Boston but right up against Newton, Brookline, Chestnut Hill, and across the river from Cambridge. Even though it’s geographically close to these towns, it was worlds away in every other respect. Things have changed now, but back then Brighton was a blue-collar working neighborhood—mostly Irish, Italians, and African-Americans, living in three-deckers, two-families, or public housing. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the second-floor of a three-decker on Champney Street—the same street where the novel unfolds. My parents slept in one bedroom and six of us kids slept in the other. It was like that up and down the block—lots of kids, no money. I’d play ball all day and hang out all night. If I had a picture of myself and 20 of my pals on the street corner, I’d guess half of them have gone on to have great lives—jobs, families, etc. Another third to half, also great kids, were dead or in jail by the time they hit 30. Is there some rhyme or reason to any of this? Or does it just cook down to getting into the wrong car on the wrong night and being sucked away in the undertow?

The novel
Brighton deals with many of these issues. In one sense I guess it’s an exploration of free will vs. fate. How much are we really in charge? Can we shape and reshape our lives? Or, once certain levers are pulled, is there really no stopping things, our only recourse to deal with whatever’s coming down the track and, in doing so, both reveal and define our true nature? There are several layers to the story, but that juxtaposition of free will and fate is certainly one thing that’s bubbling just below the surface.
Now that you have some impressions of Harvey’s new novel, how’d you like to add Brighton to your own library—at no cost whatsoever? His publisher has generously provided The Rap Sheet with three copies of this book, which we’re hoping to give away to loyal readers. To enter the drawing for one of these, all need do is e-mail your name and postal address to And be sure to type “Brighton Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted between now and midnight next Friday, June 24. The winners will be chosen completely at random.

Sorry, but at the publisher’s request, this contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.

Hey, time’s a-wastin’, folks. Get your entry in today!

1 comment:

Icewineanne said...

I just love stories where characters go back to the place they grew up. It becomes more than a mystery, it's usually a thoughtful examination of friendship, family & fate. An another book Faithful Place had a similar theme although the mystery was very different. One of my favorite reads :-)
Thanks for the review & article Jeff. Looking forward to this!