A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself

Pegasus. Mar. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781643130583. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781643131177. M
Boyle's third Brooklyn noir (after Gravesend The Lonely Witness) follows three women as they navigate perilous relationships and flee a crazed mob enforcer. Sixty-year-old Mafia widow Rena fights off a lecherous neighbor by striking him over the head with an ashtray, leaving him for dead. She then steals his mint 1962 Impala and runs to her daughter Adrienne, who refuses to let her in the house. Adrienne's boyfriend Richie has just knocked off five members of the Brancaccio crime family, absconding with half a million. Adrienne's disturbed daughter Lucia eventually winds up with the money and the chase is on. But first Rena and Lucia stumble upon former porn star Wolfstein, who's pursued by a jilted chump she scammed out of 15 large. And then comes Crea, the enforcer who gleefully pulps his victims with a hammer.
VERDICT Boyle's fiction rises above the stereotypes of urban noir, not so much for the plot as for the quirky, flawed female characters with rich inner lives, the gritty dialog, and atmospheric street settings, in which authentic details abound. Offbeat humor leavens the mix and adds to the fun.
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