December 2021 Hardboiled & Noir Crime Club Pick
A haunting crime story about the broken characters inhabiting yesterday's Brooklyn, this is the new novel from modern master of neo-noir William Boyle.
An explosive crime drama, Shoot the Moonlight Out evokes a mystical Brooklyn where the sidewalks are cracked, where Virgin Mary statues tilt in fenced front yards, and where smudges of moonlight reflect in puddles even on the blackest nights.
Southern Brooklyn, July 1996. Fire hydrants are open and spraying water on the sizzling blacktop. Punk kids have to make their own fun. Bobby Santovasco and his pal Zeke like to throw rocks at cars getting off the Belt Parkway. They think it’s dumb and harmless until it’s too late to think otherwise. Then there’s Jack Cornacchia, a widower who lives with his high school age daughter Amelia and reads meters for Con Ed but also has a secret life as a vigilante, righting neighborhood wrongs through acts of violence. A simple mission to strong-arm a Bay Ridge con man, Max Berry, leads him to cross paths with a tragedy that hits close to home.
Fast forward five years: June 2001. The summer before New York City and the world changed for good. Charlie French is a low-level gangster-wannabe trying to make a name for himself. When he stumbles onto a bowling alley locker stuffed with a bag full of cash, he brings it to his only pal, Max Berry, for safekeeping while he cleans up the mess surrounding it. Bobby Santovasco, with no real future mapped out—and the big sin of his past shining brightly in his rearview mirror—has taken a job working as an errand boy for Max Berry. On a recruiting run for Max’s Ponzi scheme, Bobby meets Francesca Clarke, born in the neighborhood but an outsider nonetheless. They hit it off. Bobby gets the idea to knock off Max’s safe so he and Francesca can escape Brooklyn forever. Little does he know what Charlie French has stashed there.
Meanwhile, Bobby’s former stepsister, Lily Murphy, is back home in the neighborhood after college, teaching a writing class in the basement of St. Mary's church. She's also being stalked by her college boyfriend. One of her students is Jack Cornacchia. When she opens up to him about her stalker, Jack decides to take matters into his own hands.
A riveting portrait of lives crashing together at the turn of the century, Shoot the Moonlight Out is tragic and tender and funny and strange. A sense of loss is palpable—what has been lost and what will be lost—and Boyle’s characters face down old ghosts with grim determination, as ripples of consequence radiate in dangerous directions.