Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Port City black and white by Gerry Boyle

Author: Gerry Boyle
Publisher/ Format: Down East Books (2011), Hardcover, 355 pages
Subject: street crime
Setting: Portland Maine
Series: Brandon Blake Mysteries
Genre: police procedural mystery
Source: ARC from publisher

Police recruit Brandon Blake, along with his partner Kat, are called to calm down a noisy party.  While there, they discover the occupant is drunk, high on drugs and has no idea where her six month old baby is.  She thought he was asleep in the bedroom, but he seems to have disappeared and she can't remember anything.  Brandon, who has arrived at adulthood with unresolved abandonment issues of his own from his alcoholic mom, is merciless in his pursuit of the missing child. 

Although he is new to the Portland police force, he is not new to violence.  He is well known throughout the city, and the police force, from an incident in which he killed a man who was holding his (Brandon's) fiancèe at gunpoint.  The police accepted him into the police academy after this incident, but many consider him too quick on the trigger, and too rigid in his attitude to make a good cop.  His fiancèe Mia, is having a hard time adjusting to his inability to check his job at the door (or in this case on the dock, since they live on a boat in the Marina). She is spending more and more time with her best friend Lily, whom Brandon describes as a "trustfunder" and Lily's boyfriend Winston, a restaurant owner who hails from Barbados.  Something about the pair doesn't sit well with Brandon, and his attempts to investigate Winston outside of official channels get him in more hot water with the brass.

This is the 2nd book featuring Brandon Blake and I'd have liked to have read the first one before this, but Boyle does a good job of just enough backfill to help us get to know this interesting young man without having to read the previous volume.  The plot develops in a quick, sharp and straight line.  The characters give the reader a well-drawn portrait of the ethnic tensions that are building in this small but charming seaport town, and a view of a small but professional police force.

Although I live in Maine, I don't get to Portland too often.  I felt though that the descriptions of the town, the routes taken by police cars, the landmarks, etc, brought the city to life for the reader who has no knowledge of the city. It's a good solid police story, with lots of room for the main characters to expand (should we look for Brandon to make detective early in his career?) and excellent writing.

Thanks to DownEast books for providing a review copy.


  1. I used to know Portland very well but we left Maine a long time ago. I must read the two books in this series.

    As for your quote of the day, I don't know about anyone else, but my wrinkles are evidence of a life well lived. :)

  2. you know, I meant to stop at the DownEast office while in Maine and throw myself at their feet...I mean offer my services... as a reviewer for their books but I never passed it at the right time, when they were open.


Welcome, thanks for stopping by. Now that you've heard our two cents, perhaps you have a few pennies to throw into the discussion. Due to a bunch more anonymous spam getting through, I've had to disallow anonymous comments. I try to respond to all comments posing a question, but may not always get to you right away.