Crime Literature

WE WERE KINGS – UK reviews


We Were Kings featured on Kirkus’ 20 Summer Crime Novels

Great article about this summer’s crime releases. Honored to have ‘We Were Kings’ listed alongside such great novels as Michael Harvey’s ‘Brighton’ and Megan Abbot’s ‘You Will Know Me’. Cheers to J. Kingston Pierce and Kirkus Reviews.

“Thomas O’Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy’s initial historical grabber, Serpent in the Cold (2015), somehow escaped my radar. The same won’t happen with its equally Boston-based sequel, We Were Kings. After the icy, desolate winter that back-dropped Serpent, we’re offered here the skin-peeling heat wave of 1954, when “currents of lightning sparked and raced” across the sky without inciting rain, and Scollay Square—a once-vibrant urban quarter, fallen on seedy times—was being razed in a racket to make room for today’s Government Center. Tipped off that a ship bearing contraband intended for Irish Republican Army partisans will land at the Charlestown docks, local police lock down the harbor, only to turn up an empty vessel and an unidentified body tarred and feathered, perhaps left behind as a warning to other prospective IRA “rats.” Homicide detective Owen Mackey, worried about Beantown turning into a conduit for Ireland-bound armaments, asks his widowed cousin, Cal O’Brien—a former cop, now heading a private security outfit—to infiltrate the Irish community, see what can be learned. O’Brien, in turn, recruits his ex-heroin addict friend, piano player Dante Cooper, and together they dig among the city’s clubs, funeral parlors, and underworld dives until they expose a terrorist scheme of no small import…”

Read the full article here.


Serpents in the Cold – paperback out tomorrow (5.24)

SERPENTS IN THE COLD paperback comes out tomorrow, May 24th.

Noir meets historical crime fiction in a dark tale of redemption during the worst winter on record.


Critics and authors praise SERPENTS IN THE COLD:

“Brutally realistic . . . The authors give us one last, lingering look at the good-bad old days.” Marilyn Stasio, New York Times

“This is a bone-crunching, gut-wrenching novel.” Kirkus Reviews

“Serpents in the Cold is a startling work of art, a beautifully rendered, atmospheric tale of crime and punishment set in mid-twentieth century Boston.” Reed Farrel Coleman, award-winning of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot

“[The authors] have delivered a love-letter to a Boston that’s long gone.” Publishers Weekly

“Serpents in the Cold lovingly revisits the hardboiled noir.” Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset

“Serpents in the Cold is a great addition to the canon of gritty Boston street fiction, a no-punches-pulled look at a bygone era.” Chuck Hogan, author of The Town

“Melancholy as a lonesome train whistle, beautifully written, as well as thrilling, Serpents In The Cold is a tight little gem of characterization and suspense.” Joe Lansdale, author of The Thicket

“Purdy and O’Malley resurrect the neighborhoods of 1950s Boston in faithful, brutal detail — and in language so lush and gorgeous that you’ll fall in love with reading it all over again.” Elisabeth Elo, author of North of Boston

Serpents in the Cold paperback release

In one week, the paperback of ‘Serpents in the Cold’ comes out – 5/24/16. With a sweet new cover, I hope the novel pulls in some new readers. Noir is a term thrown around a lot these days, but Thomas O’Malley and I think our novel justifies the term (or at least we hope so).


Alan Glynn (author of Limitless) says, “There is a classic noir sensibility at work in Serpents in the Cold, complete with its uncannily rendered sense of time and place, but the novel is also suffused with a thoroughly modern understanding of loss, pain, damage and the price of loyalty. It’s not often you get to pair gritty with lyrical, but you certainly do here.”

Order here

Gravesend: Some Kind of Sad

‘Gravesend’ is a sad, downtrodden ballad to Brooklyn. No tongue-in-cheek subversive commentary about the new trendified and gentrified borough – that self-mocking shit can take a hike. This is hard life in earnest: stories of losers, chumps, and failures. The tales within come from a place where Hubert Selby and David Goodis inhabit – the no-exit school of storytelling – but Boyle makes the tragic template his own. ‘Gravesend’ is a deceptively simple novel that spits in your face, layers in a heartfelt desire of becoming somebody you’re not, whether abandoning your neighborhood in hopes of bigger and better things, or trying to make an old high school crush fall in love with you. But second chances don’t reach that far into the grid of Boyle’s Brooklyn, where certain corners, blocks and storefronts slightly change, but the characters stay the same – lives of stasis and carrying the same hand-me-down funk from one generation to the next.

And that in itself is what makes ‘Gravesend’ modern noir – the absence of full light, hope, chances of success. It’s noir wearing an oversized Yankees jersey, eating a $1 slice of corner-store pizza, one stop away from oblivion under the rusted rails of the El. And in the end, all it takes is one bad decision to lead to a lifetime of hurt.

A heartbreaking, top-shelf novel.

We Were Kings

We Were Kings (release: 6/21/16, Mulholland Books)


Book #2 in The Boston Saga


The Noir Template: One Mistake


In Noir, it’s the eyes that give it all away. Here in Detour (1945), that faraway look of protagonist Al Roberts shows that something bad has happened, and something even worse waits on the horizon.

All it takes is one mistake.

Detour is one of the greatest fatalistic Noirs, a sublime, gritty cheapie that holds no punches. Go watch it.

Sunshine Noir: Miami Blues

Charles Willeford is a master at balancing the absurd with raw-knuckled humor and a sunburned grittiness. There’s a well-worn wit that enlightens his prose, and his mastery comes in the movement of the narrative. As he did in one of his earlier novels, ‘Pick Up’, he doesn’t waste time getting to the point. If I had to put him in a family tree of writers, he’d be a sibling to Harry Crews and Donald E. Westlake. His Florida noir is at times hilarious and bold, and in other moments, desperate and gut-wrenching. His detective, Hoke Moseley, is as lost as they come, a man married to his job because there is no other option–he has lost almost everything, including his teeth. In ‘Miami Blues’ Moseley goes up against a sadistic pickpocket and his gullible prostitute girlfriend, moving through the Miami streets and shorelines like a beaten pitbull barely able to pick one stink from another. This is not postcard Florida. Pools are filled with sand. Pink flamingos stick out of withered lawns. Shopping malls are sanctuaries for sleazebags. In the end, the typical hardboiled theatrics take a welcome backseat. In his world, not all crimes happen in the darkness, but in the white hot glare of the Miami sun.
Miami Blues. Part 1 of the Moseley Quartet. Top shelf.

Serpents in the Cold – Amazon Kindle Release Day

The crime novel SERPENTS IN THE COLD (Mulholland Books) is available now on Amazon Kindle. It may just be the perfect book for this unforgiving Winter weather. Curl up with some tea, or better yet, a neat whiskey, and travel back to February, 1951, Boston. Chuck Hogan, author of the bestselling The Town, calls it “a great addition to the canon of gritty Boston street fiction, a no-punches-pulled look at a bygone era.”

(hardcover, ebook & audiobook released on January 20th, 2015)

Purdy_SerpentsintheCold revise2.25

David Goodis and his Blonde on the Street Corner

Goodis%2C+Blonde+on+the+Street+Corner%2C+LionOne of the lesser novels in the Goodis canon. Not much happens here, and while I was frustrated with its bare-boned approach, I soon realized that is the point Goodis was trying to make. ‘The Blond on the Street Corner’ is a book about stasis, boredom, big dreams gone to shit. Set in the usually downtrodden Philadelphia, four layabouts try to find work during the hard times of the Depression. But instead of writing and striving for the epic narrative — Ayn Rand’s rags-to-riches, or Steinbeck’s loving ode to the misfits with hearts of gold — Goodis weeps out this little novel (at 150 pages) that reads like a minimal discourse in loser-speak and street-corner prose. Poorly-written at points, dare I say, lazy and repetitive. But in free-wheeling spurts of eloquent desperation, there is the usual brilliance associated with Goodis. In some strange way, I imagined this as a black & white sitcom about depression-era losers, ghost-written by Sam Beckett, staged by a young John Frankenheimer, and with a set designed by a skid-row misanthrope born & bred in the tenement burbs outside of Philly. Floors are bare, walls are cracked, jackets are torn and pockets are weighed down with a penny and not much more. In the end, the cast of character’s dreams skitter and twitch, and then resume their static state. Even sex-starved blondes hang their heads in defeat, and that usually doesn’t happen in the stable of Goodis’ femme-fatales. It’s a dismal world not worth taking advantage of. The message, just give up now so it hurts less later. Read the other Goodis novels before this one (‘Street of No Return’ or ‘The Burglar’), and then give this one a chance. It’ll cement your view that Goodis is one of the most misanthropic authors out there this side of Selby Jr. and H.P. Lovecraft.