During a recent visit to Boston, their Sunday Globe reviewed a recently published first novel by Richard Marinick. On one level just a solid crime novel read. Interesting characters carrying out lives and business just outside the boundaries most of us travel. Two factors caught my attention. First, the author wrote the book while working as a labourer on Boston’s big dig. Second, his credentials for understanding the subject matter included 10 years in prison for armoured car robbery. Prison time also gave him the opportunity to earn an English degree and to receive solid teaching through a program organized by the legendary Boston University professor, Elizabeth Barker.
Boyos is an Irish term for thug. The story is about their complex and dangerous world told through the story of two brothers. The reader gets to ride with them; listen from the next table; and share their collection visits with customers, and business meetings with colleagues and competitors. Their tour of South Boston and the South Shore includes places with a long history but little recognition in tourist literature. Yet, they are there – streets, parks, beaches, diners, bars, restaurants.
Marinick not only lived the life, he paid attention to language, movement, place and character. Everyday activities and conversations surround the reader with a sense of voyeuristic participation. Graphic descriptions of violence jolt the reader to the reality underneath interesting surfaces. Marinick obviously brought his armoured car skills into the story. The main character organizes a successful robbery in the narrow streets of Boston’s Italian North End.
Certainly being in Boston while reading the book added to the enjoyment. Just I was finishing, Quincy Mass. had its first armoured car robbery in decades. They are still looking for the boyos with the fake beards who did it.
The book is in the tradition of the highly popular Mystic River. Without the Boston connection, it may not be as engaging as it was for me. However, Boyos, the movie, can’t be too far behind. Look for it.