I wish Dennis Lehane, one of America’s great novelists, would write another mystery with gritty P.I.s Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, but I admire the author’s choice to take on new challenges. From the tragic “Mystic River” to the gothic “Shutter Island” to “The Given Day,” his new, 704-page historical novel set during the Boston police riots of 1918. “The Given Day” has been touted as “more complex, rich and evocative than anything the Boston-based author has written.” It’s on my reading list.
Lehane was asked by AP where he got the idea for the book:
“I had heard of the Boston police strike since I was a kid growing up in Boston. It was just one of those things that was back there somewhere, and then about seven years ago, I was just thinking about it and I was just stopped cold by what I’d commonly accepted, which is that the entire police force just walked off the job. I was just walking and I thought … “What does that really mean?” It means you have no police? And I began to look into it. The first thing that made me say, ooh, I think I’m going to do this is that I heard at the height of the second day of the riots, the 7th Cavalry charged down Beacon Hill in full regalia with trumpets. I couldn’t get that image out of my head. … Then I heard the Brahmins, the ruling elite in Boston, dealt with their fear that the natives — in this case the Irish and the Italians — were going to overthrow them with a rather novel solution, which was that they armed the Harvard football team, gave them all rifles, sent them to a bridge where they fired on the crowd. I heard that and I went, “Oh, man, I’m writing that book.”