Boyle, Gerry 1956-
Boyle, Gerry 1956-
Born May 20, 1956, in Chicago, IL; son of Emmet J. and Jeanne Boyle; married Mary Victoria Foley (a teacher), June 21, 1980; children: Emily, Carolyn, Charles. Education: Colby College, Waterville, ME, B.A., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, birding, canoeing.
Home—Maine. Agent—Helen Brann Agency, 94 Curtis Rd., Bridgewater, CT 06752. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Rumford Falls Times, Rumford, ME, reporter and editor, 1979; Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Waterville, ME, reporter and editor, 1981-87, columnist, 1987—; Colby Magazine, managing editor.
Various awards from New England press associations, for newspaper columns.
"JACK MCMORROW" MYSTERY SERIES
Deadline, North Country Press (Belfast, ME), 1993.
Bloodline, Putnam (New York, NY), 1995.
Lifeline, Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
Potshot, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.
Borderline, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 1998.
Cover Story, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2000.
Pretty Dead, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2003.
Home Body, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
Gerry Boyle has won critical acclaim for his mystery series featuring Jack McMorrow. In books such as Bloodline, Lifeline, and Potshot, McMorrow is portrayed as an alienated reporter who has left the New York Times to live as a freelance writer/bum in the backwoods of Maine. Reviewers frequently praise Boyle's gritty, realistic view of life in rural New England.
Deadline, the initial book in the McMorrow series, was praised as "a bone-cracking first novel" by Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times Book Review. In this story, the jaded reporter takes a job as editor of the Androscoggin Review, a weekly newspaper in "a gritty mill town where the snow starts falling around Labor Day and the hearts of the citizenry stay frozen all year round," as Stasio put it. When McMorrow's staff photographer is found dead, the townspeople seem indifferent, but there is a strong reaction when he starts to investigate the local paper mill. Stasio found that the author's guarded writing style perfectly conveyed the "stark terror of isolation," and she added: "There's a steel backbone in his lean plot, and the clipped prose and flinty characterizations are to this rugged literary landscape what the black woods and craggy cliffs are to the contours of Maine—a daunting kind of beauty."
Bloodline, the sequel to Deadline, was a superior effort in which the protagonist became "less a collection of traits and quirks and much more a fully realized character," in the estimation of Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky. In this book, McMorrow is at work on a magazine article about teenaged mothers. One of his interview subjects turns up dead, and the reporter becomes the prime suspect. A critic for Publishers Weekly noted: "Boyle deftly establishes mood and setting, clearly defines his characters and offers lots of reflection from Jack, whose subdued first-person narration gives this solid mystery an intimate, small-town air."
In Potshot McMorrow accepts a 300 dollar paycheck from some Maine hippies to write a story about their campaign to legalize marijuana. His story leads to an assassination attempt by some vicious urban gangsters. "Boyle provides a big cast of quirky down-easters as he authoritatively guides us through the Maine woods," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "The climactic chase is a stunner." In Borderline, Boyle interweaves the tale of Benedict Arnold's doomed 1775 trek to Quebec (the subject of an article being researched by McMorrow) with McMorrow's investigation into the disappearance of a tourist. Rex E. Klett, writing in Library Journal, declared Borderline to be an example of more "solid writing" from Boyle, and Booklist contributor Thomas Gaughan asserted that Boyle's "best work comes in lovely, evocative passages about rural, remote Maine; the horrific story of Arnold's doomed effort to bring Quebec into the war against the British; and McMorrow's ruminations about mortality."
In his sixth installment, Cover Story, McMorrow is summoned back to New York, where a new management team wants him to become the Maine correspondent for the New York Times. While in the city, he sees his old friend, Butch Casey, now retired from the New York police. It was the death of Butch's wife and McMorrow's subsequent coverage of the trial of her murderer that lost the journalist his job at the Times. He was accused of slanted reporting of the trial, in which the judge allowed the defendant to go free. Now that same judge is mayor of New York, and when he is stabbed to death, Butch Casey becomes the prime suspect. Coming to the aid of his friend, McMorrow begins to investigate the death of Casey's wife again, and encounters not only resistance, but also death threats as the trail leads him closer and closer to City Hall. Lukowsky, reviewing this addition to the series in Booklist, thought Cover Story was an "intricately plotted" and "outstanding crime novel," that might thrust Boyle onto the bestseller charts. Similarly, in a starred review, a Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Boyle "deftly puts Jack [McMorrow] through his paces." Klett, writing in Library Journal, added to the praise, noting that the novel was "told with crisp tension."
With Pretty Dead, the seventh novel in the series, Boyle "is at the top of his form," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Here, McMorrow is put on the trail of a good story when his girlfriend, social worker Roxanne Masterson, investigates charges of child physical abuse against a prominent Boston couple, the Connellys. Jack and Roxanne are subsequently invited to a social event at the Connelly estate, where a murder occurs that leads Jack deeper and deeper into the past of this wealthy family. The Publishers Weekly reviewer found this novel "riveting." Frank Sennett, reviewing the same work in Booklist, noted that Boyle "deftly illustrates the nearly irresistible pull that wealth and power can have on us all." For Ann Hellmuth, writing in Florida's Orlando Sentinel, Pretty Dead was "an entertaining, unpretentious thriller."
McMorow's eighth appearance, Home Body, investigates the world of street teens, with Jack saving a young and vulnerable boy named Rocky from predators. Rocky continues to turn up in Jack's life. Dead bodies begin to appear, as well. Meanwhile, McMorrow and Roxanne are expecting their first child and Jack has taken a safe job on a Bangor newspaper. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found this novel "intense … [and] suspense-filled," despite the fact that it was "not quite as well paced as others." A similarly mixed assessment came from a Kirkus Reviews critic who felt that Home Body was a "bump in the road" of this otherwise "good series."
Boyle once told CA: "I began my fiction writing career after several years as a newspaper reporter, covering the events and lives of Maine mill towns. My newspaper writing takes me to courtrooms and police stations and the streets, where life is very different from the Maine that people know from postcards. This immersion in the tougher side of life led me to look for an escape of sorts, which I found in mystery writing.
"My mysteries, featuring big-city newsman Jack McMorrow, are gritty and realistic, and have been described as a stark contrast to the Maine that has been dubbed ‘vacationland.’ For me, however, they offer a respite from the boundaries of newspaper writing (everything has to be true) and from a world where usually there is no McMorrow to solve the crime or come to the rescue. The novels may be realistic, but they contain a strong element that is missing in real life, and that is justice.
"I have been influenced by Robert Parker and Raymond Chandler, with additional inspiration from the works of John D. McDonald, Tony Hillerman, and Dick Francis, all of whom write beautifully and mysteriously. It is not easy to do both."
Boyle more recently told CA: "I grew up in a house full of books, where everyone read and the highlight of the week was a trip to the local public library. There is no better way to be lured into becoming a writer than to read good books early and often. I read history, novels, biographies. I read fewer crime novels than my readers suspect, but I'm drawn to real-life crime and criminals. There is something fascinating about people who cannot or will not obey the rules.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that there is no end to the study of human nature. People are always surprising and interesting if you look at them from enough angles and with enough curiosity.
"My favorite of my books is Home Body because it combined history and mystery and pushed the limits of the genre in some ways. I hope my books portray characters in respectful ways, paint an effective portrait of landscape and that once in a while a turn of phrase will make a reader pause and smile."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 1995, Wes Lukowsky, review of Bloodline, p. 1311; July, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of Lifeline, p. 1806; March 1, 1997, Thomas Gaughan, review of Potshot, p. 1113; January 1, 1998, Thomas Gaughan, review of Borderline, p. 780; November 15, 1999, Wes Lukowsky, review of Cover Story, p. 606; December 1, 2003, Frank Sennett, review of Pretty Dead, p. 650; March 15, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of Home Body, p. 1600.
Editor & Publisher, April 14, 1998, Hiley Ward, review of Borderline, p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Home Body, p. 363.
Library Journal, March 15, 1997, Terrill Persky, review of Potshot, p. 87; January, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Borderline, p. 147; January, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Cover Story, p. 166.
New York Times Book Review, November 18, 1993, Marilyn Stasio, review of Deadline; March 16, 1997, review of Potshot.
Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, FL), January 28, 2004, Ann Hellmuth, review of Pretty Dead.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1993, review of Deadline, p. 47; March 20, 1995, review of Bloodline, p. 47; June 17, 1996, review of Lifeline, p. 50; February 3, 1997, review of Potshot, p. 98; December 1, 1997, review of Borderline, p. 47; December 13, 1999, review of Cover Story, p. 67; November 10, 2003, review of Pretty Dead, p. 46; March 31, 2004, review of Home Body, p. 55.
Writer, April, 1994, Gerry Boyle, "Writing a First Novel," p. 23.
Agony, http://www.trashtron.com/agony/ (April 17, 2006), Terry D'Auray, review of Pretty Dead.
Colby Magazine Online,http://www.colby.edu/ (April 17, 2006). "Gerry Boyle, Managing Editor."
Gerry Boyle Home Page,http://www.gerryboyle.com (April 17, 2006).
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (April 17, 2006), Anthony D. Langford, review of Deadline, Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Cover Story.
Who Dunnit,http://www.whodunnit.com/ (April 17, 2006), Alan Paul Curtis, review of Cover Story.