Brighton by Michael Harvey
Published by HarperCollins, $28, 368 pages
How ironic it is when kids from one family or neighborhood diverge dramatically as adults. Kevin is a star at school and in baseball who travels those significant few miles, in an upwardly mobile swoop, from his rough neighborhood in Brighton to the headquarters of The Boston Globe, where he eventually becomes a Pulitzer-winning crime reporter. His sisters Bridget and Colleen are left behind, as is his friend Bobby, tortured and angry, who becomes a reckless and rich bookie. But Kevin and Bobby are joined by a fateful act of violence: At age 15, Kevin set out to kill the man who allegedly murdered his grandmother, but Bobby pulled the trigger first. Guilt sizzles for decades as they lead their different lives, until Bobby becomes a suspect in a series of murders that dredge up their painful past and demand reconnection.
Boston-bred scribe Michael Harvey writes with energetic cynicism, enlivening the Brightonites’ criminal schemes and trashy talk. Yet his style also has a kind of breezy wit. His portrayal of Kevin contrasts the character’s left-behind local life and attitude with his new style as an educated, successful journalist dating a sophisticated lawyer. Back home after decades, his two selves become dangerously connected as the reporter finds himself entwined in the story. And Bobby’s own complexity reveals an underlying strand of loyalty and protection, one of the novel’s many surprises.
From Page 320: The puckered scar ran in a thick diagonal across her back, from left shoulder to right hip. Bridget twisted in the mirror and traced it with her eye. They’d burned her that winter—the winter of her tenth year—with a pot of hot coffee. She remembered it, black and scalding, a waterfall of pain that beat her to the floor where she curled up in a ball and screamed inside her head, never offering more than a mutter for public consumption.