Keeping on the theme of Globe columnists ... Anyone who knows me or has read this blog probably figured out by now that I'm an unapologetic fan of Brian McGrory, the Boston Globe's Metro columnist.
For me, it's as simple as this: He's the only writer in town - from either paper - that I will read start to finish no matter what the subject.
There are several others who come close, "Downtown" columnist Steve Bailey and my former boss Joe Sciacca (when he had his column). But it's McGrory who, I think, truly carries the pulse of Boston. It wasn't always that way. I think he has truly hit his stride in the last two years - wonderfully skewering pols (yes, including ones I have/do work for), telling stories of woe and triumph no one else will and truly covering the city from the columnist's chair.
So it wasn't much of a surprise to me that I picked up his first novel a couple years back, "The Incumbent." It was the story of a grizzled reporter from The Boston Record named Jack Flynn (not much of a cover, I thought, but I read on). And I was glad I did. It was a well-written, compelling story - based mostly in Washington - about a president, a reporter and another grand attempt at the perfect crime. Pick it up, it's good.
I fell off the bandwagon through two books - mostly owing, I guess, to the fact that I hadn't really read any books through the first couple years of my kids' lives since sleeping was a rarity and, when quiet time found me, sleeping was a priority.
A couple weeks ago, I stumpled on "Strangled," his latest, at Borders and figured I'd give it a shot. I just finished it the other day and it was great. It's the same reporter, a little older, a little more grizzled and now in Boston as the "Record's" top dog reporter, who gets drawn into a murder investigation which appears to shade the infamous Boston Strangler case.
Once again, a tight, well-written, compelling story. Mostly, I like the reporter-turned-action hero storyline (what current or former reporter wouldn't?). And I love the writing on Boston. It proves my point about no one knowing our capital city better. The story just has the feel, the sights and even the smells of Boston's diverse neighborhoods.
I'll admit, the writing around Jack Flynn's fellow reporter, Vinny Mongillo, annoyed me. Not just that Mongillo was fat but that McGrory had him eating like a pig in every single scene he was in. When Steven Soderbergh had Brad Pitt eating in every scene of "Ocean's Eleven," it was charming and funny - mostly since Pitt is eye-candy for most of the audience. But the image of a big, fat, sweaty guy eating all the time is pretty distracting.
That flaw aside, "Strangled" is a great read and one I'd highly recommend. Now I've gone on Amazon and, through private used book sellers, picked up the previous two books, "The Nominee" and "Deadline" (for I think $8 total). I'll let you know what I think - though I'm reading the "U2 by U2" coffeetable book and "Bringing Down the House" at the moment.
Oh, and a memo to McGrory - have one of the minions update your website, www.brianmcgrory.com. It's way out of date, doesn't have the new book featured and, unlike the columns or the books, needs some umph.