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.