Book Review: Brighton, by Michael Harvey

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication date: August 2016

Brighton by Michael Harvey

Brighton is an intense dog-eat-dog urban wilderness. Racial tension is ever-present and a childhood there in the 1970’s screams despair at the top of its lungs, as the kids faced the reality of their situation but cling onto hope by the tips of their fingers. They couldn’t wait to grow up and follow their dreams, but when they finally caught up with the adult world they found it too was broken and all they could do was patch it up as best as they could.

Only the rare few escape Brighton’s clutches, but they are never free of their past. If a stray bullet or a concealed blade didn’t find you, the drug scene would infest lives one way or another, either on the giving or receiving end of it. And a devil may care attitude could command respect or get you killed. Police corruption, swindling your boss, and not observing the pecking order, have the same desired effect.

Despite being born and raised under Boston’s angry clouds, Kevin Pearce had a different kind of intellect. He was destined for a life outside of Brighton away from his abusive father and long suffering mother, so his grandmother told everyone. But sometimes bad things happen to good people and whether he likes it or not, this suffocating place will never let him forget a thing.

Kevin’s old buddy, Bobby Scales, possessed a special version of street wisdom and it kept him at the top of the food chain. In a warped kind of way he wanted to make the world a better place. He made a promise to the only person to show him kindness that he would give Kevin the advantage he deserved, even if that meant risking everything.

You’d think that after winning the Pulitzer prize for investigative journalism in 2002 Kevin could return to Brighton with his head held high, but no, he finds his old ghosts are lining up to haunt him, only they’ve invited a few new ones to join the queue. The people are older but not entirely wiser, still scrambling for crumbs off someone else’s table and always ready to jump into your warm shoes if you fall down or are pushed. Kevin’s District Attorney girlfriend has been following this breadcrumb trail, as she hopes it will lead to the sordid heart of Brighton where its residents are turning up dead.

As right and wrong morphs until only one path lies ahead, I quickly realised that it can lead to a new beginning or the end of the road. I just couldn’t believe how each day could start off badly only to get progressively worse and constantly wondered if things would improve for the people at the heart of it all.

Brighton conjures an oppressive aura of bleakness where everyone glances over their shoulder to check if their past is hurtling toward them Its menacing streets and startling raw dialogue emit a moody vibe to create a punch-to-the-gut read, that is both addictive and bold. 

Rating: An intense 4/5

(My thanks to Bloomsbury and Philippa Cotton for providing a paperback proof copy of this title in exchange for an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

You came back here to bury your past … Thing is, you gotta kill it first.

Brighton, 1975: a Boston neighbourhood where racial tensions run high and gangs jostle for dominance in the trades that matter – drugrunning, book-keeping and theft. Fifteen-year-old Kevin Pearce knows his best hope is to get the hell out before its bloody streets get a grip on his dreams. Bitterness and brutality stalk the hard-drinking generations of his Irish immigrant family. But when an act of violence tears their home apart, Kevin is forced to leave for New York, changing the course of his life forever.

Twenty-seven years later, in 2002, Kevin wins the Pulitzer Prize for an investigative article on the wrongful conviction and death of a man from Brighton, and decides to visit his old neighbourhood for the first time in decades. But his past has long shadows – shadows which have taken on a life of their own. And when Kevin’s prosecutor girlfriend Lisa asks his advice on a murder case, he is plunged into a web of deception and bloodshed that will test his loyalties to the limit and place the life he has built at risk.

Grittily realistic, razor-sharp and darkly compelling, Brighton is about the meaning of family, the price of friendship, and survival in a world where one misstep can cost everything.


BRIGHTON - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing website)

Michael Harvey is the author of The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor, The Third Rail, We All Fall Down, and The Innocence Game, as well as a journalist and documentary producer. His work has won numerous national and international awards, including multiple news Emmys, two Primetime Emmy nominations, and an Academy Award nomination. He holds a law degree with honours from Duke University, a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in classical languages from Holy Cross College. He lives in Chicago.