They never should have let Ray Boy Calabrese out of the slammer. “A lot got washed away in 16 years,” William Boyle acknowledges in GRAVESEND (Pegasus Crime, $25.95), but who knew that Conway D’Innocenzio was still bent on getting revenge for the murder of his brother, Duncan? All this time, Conway has been working a crummy job at a Brooklyn Rite Aid, brooding on the coldblooded crime and waiting for his chance to put Ray Boy in the ground.
After coming up with a solid plan and even going to the trouble of learning how to shoot a gun, Conway confronts Ray Boy at his family’s upstate summer house near Monticello. But before he pulls the trigger, Conway insists on hearing his brother’s last words. “He went, ‘Remember third grade. We were friends. Please don’t do this,’” Ray Boy tells him, then breaks down crying. Although he’s disgusted with himself, Conway can’t manage to do the deed. Instead, he sticks Ray Boy in the trunk of his car and drives to Plumb Beach, where Duncan was killed, hoping for a shot of courage. But he still can’t pull the trigger, so he leaves Ray Boy in the sand and heads straight to a booth at Murphy’s Irish to brood over “shots of Jack and a two pitchers of Bud” with a worn-out cop named McKenna. Conway doesn’t want sympathy; he wants a good kick to stiffen his resolve. But McKenna is determined to save him from himself: “I’m telling you, you’re gonna live with Hell inside of you. It’s gonna crawl up in you. Not purgatory. Hell with a capital H.”
Boyle chews the local dialect like a Nathan’s hot dog, biting into the juices of pure Brooklynese and savoring the mustardy aftertaste. The sound is especially sharp coming from Ray Boy’s 15-year-old nephew, Eugene, who wants to be “tough” like his uncle and adds “yo” to his curses. A neighborhood woman named Alessandra, a failed actress who’s spent time in California, speaks with a classier accent, but after a few weeks at home with her widowed father, she’s snapping her syllabic gum with the best of them.
Talk about tempting fate! In DEPTH OF WINTER (Viking, $28), Walt Longmire, the laconic hero of Craig Johnson’s Western mysteries, arrives in Juarez shortly before the Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Walt, who serves as the sheriff of Absaroka County back in Wyoming, is way out of his jurisdiction in “the real-deal Wild West” south of the border, but he’s got an alarming reason to be there: His daughter, Cady, has been kidnapped by Tomás Bidarte, the sadistic head of a drug cartel, who plans to auction her off for sport — and to settle a score with her father.
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