Ecco, 366 pages, $27.99
Michael Harvey wrote a series set in Chicago that began with "The Chicago Way." That book knocked my socks off. Now "Brighton," which may be a story closer to Harvey's heart (he might live in Chicago now but he was born in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston), has done the same thing. Harvey has a way with creating at least one character who is real enough to touch. In "Brighton" that person is Kevin Pearce.
Harvey's story begins in 1971 and 1975, when Kevin and Bobby Seales meet as children. Bobby is slightly older and treats Kevin like a little brother. It's a good thing that Kevin has Bobby for "family" because his real family is no great shakes. His father creates an evil atmosphere at home. Psychopaths can do that. His mother is pretty hopeless. Kevin's two younger sisters are only a couple of years apart in age, but Bridget is definitely the boss of Colleen. Yes, it's a Boston Irish family. There's booze, drugs, gambling, corruption, and fighting. In that sense it's a stereotype, but Harvey works it in his own special way. That takes up about a fifth of the book. Then the action moves to 2002.
In 2002, Kevin is a reporter for the Boston Globe. He is on the verge of winning a Pulitzer Prize for a story he did about an innocent man who had been charged with murder. The man is from Kevin's old neighborhood, so Kevin returns to follow up the story. There's also a secret (which the reader learns fairly early, but which I won't reveal here) that binds Kevin to Bobby, now the neighborhood bookie, even though they haven't seen each other for years.
Bridget and Colleen are still tied to the neighborhood by marriage or ambition. They, too, have not seen Kevin in a while. It's a shock to Kevin when he finds out what his family and friends have been up to. And he will soon be embroiled in situations that ripple from that childhood secret that he and Bobby shared, including a potential serial killer.
Harvey provides a lot of twists. His hero suffers and schemes. His villains are Scorsese material. "Brighton" is a nutshell history of a broken family trying to find a way to survive, with or without each other.