Harvey’s Brighton reaches deep into the roots of place, family and the bonds of friendship, both character and environment exquisitely rendered. The people that inhabit this part of Boston, particularly Kevin Pearce and Bobby Scales, are fully-fleshed, humanly-flawed, and tied to the chaos around them as well as their survival of it. Harvey weaves a spell between the 1970s and current time, tying past to future, relationships of blood tangled in soil already tainted by misery, despair, and violence. Such is their heritage.
Though too few leave, Brighton is not a place for a boy like Kevin Pearce to stay. And though Bobby Scales has never questioned the fact that that this is where his life will play out, Kevin is meant to escape the inevitable cycle of poverty and crime that is his heritage. There are two vital people in Kevin’s life, his grandmother and his friend Bobby. After a terrible act of violence that literally shatters Kevin’s world, he leaves Brighton abruptly, only returning after more than two decades
as a newspaper reporter for the Boston Globe. Driving through the once-familiar streets, Kevin has just learned he will be receiving a Pulitzer Prize for a crime series he wrote about murder in his old neighborhood. His parents dead, only sisters Bridget and Colleen still in Brighton, the tragedy of years before has bred its own consequences. He knows Bobby will still be around.
The two unlikely childhood friends, who unexpectedly bonded during the troubled years of their youth, have become men. Kevin
is on the cusp of real success, Bobby falling into the role of loan shark enforcer, construction worker, loner, and placeholder against the past. As Kevin returns to Brighton on a recent case of murder his ambitious girlfriend
(a prosecutor) is researching and filled will the quiet excitement of the Pulitzer, it is impossible for him to resist visiting the old neighborhoods and familiar faces in spite of the terrible images superimposed over the aging buildings. A meeting with Bobby is inevitable, the past heavy on both their hearts, though Bobby is, as ever, a pragmatist. No fool, Pearce is supportive of his girlfriend’s career ambitions but understands the potential consequences of his return, wary when her murder investigation cuts too close to stories that are best left buried.
Each character spins easily through the Harvey’s tightly synchronized dance, each perfectly-executed step falling into place as two childhood friends stand exposed, in great danger. It is the nature of Brighton to claim its own, to pull them back into the vortex of crime, poverty, and dysfunction that seeps from a landscape riddled with desperation, hopelessness, and rage: “And they lived, chained together by nothing but blood, yet chained together all the same.” When the masks slip aside, the true faces of greed, fear, and envy are exposed, Kevin stripped bare of any naďve notions he has harbored, things Bobby has always known. Their friendship is at the heart of this engrossing tale, the loyalty and courage born of a moment’s fated decision. Harvey takes no prisoners, delivering an experience that leaves a reader richer for undertaking this journey through Brighton, old and new, with two memorable protagonists.