"A solid crime novel, which... may delight readers with its entertaining premise and real sense of place."– Kirkus Reviews
Connelly’s (Blue Collar Boston Cool, 2012) second installment in the series once again ventures into the seedier—but lovable—side of Boston.
Jim Herlihy has lived on Schraft Street all his life, counting its occasionally troubled, gruff residents as family, its bars and restaurants as home. The owner of a barely profitable gym and a sports bar, he cares for the misfits and cons, criminals and malcontents, serving as a pillar of strength in the struggling community. But Jim has a new girlfriend—young, successful attorney Janice Cochrane—who wants Jim to move into her upper-class downtown apartment and sell all the properties he owns on Schraft Street, including his beloved bar. Jim’s naturally hesitant, unsure if he should sell what he’s worked so hard to achieve. But when someone mugs and savagely beats local beloved character Little Lloyd Dolson, Jim recommits himself to his neighborhood, teaming up with patrons of his gym to form a vigilante group that aims to keep the neighborhood safe. Like its predecessor, this novel exudes blue-collar charm, hosting a cast of defined characters with some entertaining names (The Walrus, Mountain Bill) and a neighborhood instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up in a lower-middle-class urban environment. Connelly’s plot feels more developed in this second outing with these characters, giving readers an emotionally resonant story that follows regular citizens who want to improve their community but face difficulties they couldn’t imagine. Inauthentic sounding dialogue and unnecessary details, however, sometimes ding a rich, sound tale.
A solid crime novel, which, while flawed, may delight readers with its entertaining premise and real sense of place.
Connelly’s (A Man for the Times, 2012, etc.) fourth novel follows Jim Herlihy’s tumultuous life as a struggling businessman, a murder suspect and the object of a young stripper’s affection.
Set on Boston’s Schraft Street, this tale embraces the city and working-class charm. Herlihy, who loves his community, struggles to make ends meet, as he pours over his business finances in an effort to keep his gym afloat. Readers will take an immediate liking to him: He refuses to cut any of his employees’ salaries and strives for honesty in his work. His tragic life—he lost his mother at a young age—hasn’t affected his pleasant demeanor, and he isn’t overly prideful about his handsome appearance. One of his young tenants, a beautiful but confused stripper named Amy, has fallen in love with him—a serious complication, since Herlihy looks on her with brotherly affection. At various local haunts, readers see a close-knit group of people who, despite their gruff exterior, care for each other deeply. Serious difficulties arise, though, when a local thug named Hoary Harry threatens to rape Amy—then turns up dead. Sane but notoriously tough Herlihy is the obvious suspect, and now the police and the mob are out for justice. This well-constructed mystery isn’t without fault, though; in particular, dialogue can ring untrue (“You’re running the Big Jerk Capital of the world!”), and the story doesn’t immediately grab the reader. When the action slows down, the story can become tedious, as when the actual gym’s finances are relayed early in the novel. Still, Connelly provides an enjoyable bit of entertainment, and he clearly knows and loves his city.
A fun but flawed mystery that offers ample urban escapism.