Culture Club: Boston Noir
Scenes from a Dennis Lehane crime fiction binge
Welcome to Culture Club, a new weekly feature where David and I (and sometimes both of us!) talk about what we’re reading, watching, and listening to each week. This feature is for paid subscribers only, but enjoy this free preview, and subscribe for the full post and more!
March. The edge of an icy wind insinuates itself through the crack in my window, ruffling the slats in the bent Venetian blinds I haven’t replaced in the ten years I’ve lived in this apartment, overlooking a highly specific, scruffy Boston neighborhood. I dog-ear the Dennis Lehane novel I’ve been reading and take a moody puff of my cigarette, watch the ash pile up like my regrets. Beneath my window on the cracked asphalt, a woman passes, bundled in a gray coat that can’t disguise her lush curves, and around her shapely legs the grim March wind seems more like a lover’s caress. I want to leap out of my body at that moment, become a skein of air touching the skirt of this dark-haired beauty I’ll never know, remove myself entirely from the web of threatening and increasingly implausible violence that’s been building in my life, almost exactly as if I am a character in a Dennis Lehane novel. Which I am. A private detective, to be precise, a figure once dominant in fiction but increasingly marginalized in this modern world.
Once again I am faced with the inherent madness of this modern world, with its numerous unconnected violent incidents I’m going to list in order to emphasize universal themes of the cost of progress, the violent nature of American life, and the deep alienation that results from it all. I consider the latest sequence of affairs that have led me to this point—a point I’ve carefully sown with elliptical references to the twist ending I can feel coming like the ache in my gut—when I think of my sexually attractive but unavailable detecting partner.
All I know is this, at the end of the (frigid, Boston) day. One thing’s for certain: somebody’s childhood friend is involved in all this, and they’re going to get shot.
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