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.”
‘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.
“The 1950s seems a familiar decade, nestled in a buoyant post-war economy that expanded the middle class and generated an avid consumer society. But before the Princess phones, Eldorado tailfins and backyard Weber grills, there was a short, but sharp, recession. By 1951, Boston was still struggling.
This is the year, and this is the town, of “Serpents in the Cold,” a skinned-knuckle mystery by co-authors Thomas O’Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy. In the best noir tradition, these co-authors shine a smoky light on lives often lived in shadows; in this case, the inhabitants who lived in Scollay Square and the West End of Boston, before it all disappeared under the developers’ wrecking ball…
A noir novel can be the high, slippery tightrope of mysteries. It’s difficult to sustain a dark, moody balance; many writers slide right off into caricature. But O’Malley and Purdy let in just enough daylight – even if it’s harsh winter light – to hold out hope of redemption.”