Brighton is a gritty whodunit murder mystery wrapped in the backdrop of a working man’s crime story – and I loved every minute of reading it.
Michael Harvey has been compared to Elmore Leonard, and high-praise aside, that’s a fair enough assessment. Harvey generates seedy characters aplenty, writes quick, crisp dialogue with a lightning-fast plot. But man, I see Dennis Lehane’s worthy handy work all over the place like fingerprints in a Southie brothel. The Boston setting aside, Harvey, like Lehane, paints the environ in unflatteringly-realistic hues. The potholed streets, the weed-infested parks, the dirty benches, and slophouse pubs. Homes aren’t just lived-in spaces, but overused and dilapidated. Everyone in the neighborhood is working on con, even if that con is simply staying alive while commiserating over a Sam Adams while the sky above is eternally gray and cold.
The mystery brought forth in Brighton involves the murders of a number of different women, similar in class, perhaps, save for one. Newly-crowned, Pulitzer-winning, investigative journalist/walking cliché Kevin Pearce takes on the task of putting clues together, even though most of those clues point to his childhood buddy Bobby Scales… as well as himself. Craziness ensues and the mystery runs as deep as the 70s while Harvey snares you as the reader, making each chapter-break a mini-cliffhanger prompting you to read on and on throughout the night and to hell with that 8 AM marketing call you have scheduled for the next morning. Yeah, Brighton pounds you like the Bruins D and makes you ask for more.
I’ve been to Boston all of two times in my life. After reading tales such as these, I should have no desire to return. Although, I think I do. I want to walk these mapped-out roads, and throw back a shot of Finnegan’s at some Market Street hole. To be haunted as I roam the cobblestones. But I could definitely live without having to be murdered to enjoy the story.