The Reading Life: A Talk with Gerry Boyle


Peter Bollen writes an occasional column for The Bridgton News dedicated to books and authors including reviews and news of the book trade. The author welcomes comments and suggestions.

“Stunning” — The Washington Post

“A Bone-Cracking Novel” — NY Times

“Boyle lets his suspense build to an excruciating point”

“Spread the word” — Booklist

The accolades were coming in from all corners. And this guy was writing about Maine, murder, mayhem and mystery. What’s not to love I thought? After reading a review, I decided to put Gerry Boyle on my must read list.

Boyle wrote his first novel (Deadline) in 1993. His protagonist named Jack McMorrow is a journalist from a small town in Western Maine. The author’s book and reputation grew over the years as McMorrow has become a popular crime-fighting hero in the ensuing 22 years since the first novel.

The newest McMorrow mystery (Once Burned), the 10th in this series, has just been released. Just who is this guy, McMorrow? As Boyle writes — a cast-off from the New York Times, he moved to Maine and became an investigative reporter for a small town weekly. As a journalist himself, Gerry Boyle knows his turf. In an interview I wondered how a prolific author gets his ideas. As a working journalist, Boyle has spent time covering all kinds of crime, traveling with police, spending time in courtrooms, interviewing victims and covering crimes big and small.

For the uninitiated, McMorrow can best be described as his own man, plays by his own rules and takes a back seat to no one. Sardonic in his humor (his asides are often hilarious), he can’t be accused of corruption or incompetence even if he bends the rules at times to crack a case. He gets the job done and is quite simply, relentless in an imperfect world. Honor is above all, is his mission — “relentless” as Boyle explains.

Boyle has added a new protagonist to his repertoire — Brandon Blake — a young police officer based in Portland. Blake has now appeared in two novels — Port City Black and White and Port City Shakedown. Reviews of the Port City books were continually enthusiastic. The Maine Telegram regarded Portland City Shakedown as “one of the best mysteries to come out of the state in recent years.” I rushed out and got this book and was not disappointed. The dialogue crackles from the get-go. I’ve become an instant fan of Gerry Boyle and couldn’t wait to talk to this writer. As a fan of legendary author Robert B. Parker (of the Spenser and Jess Stone series), I asked Boyle about Parker’s influence. Parker was impressed with his writing and recommended he obtain an agent. Boyle’s success followed. Critics have noted that any fan of the Spenser books would be pleased with the McMorrow series. A high compliment indeed.

I had to ask Boyle whom he would envision an actor to play McMorrow. Patrick Dempsey came immediately to mind (great choice!) Among his favorite authors include John D. McDonald of the Travis McGee series along with Parker. Both authors had feature films of their characters. I wouldn’t be surprised if some Hollywood agent picked up an option for Boyle’s books and characters.

As a new fan of Gerry Boyle, my winter reading is all taken care of. Anyone a fan of mayhem, skullduggery, intrigue, extortion and the underside of human nature, you can’t do worse than mining the exploits of Jack McMorrow and Brandon Blake and what lurks in the underside of Maine’s neighborhoods and back roads. You won’t be disappointed.

Gerry Boyle’s books are all in print. For more information on this author, his website is

Peter Bollen, a resident of Bridgton, can be reached at

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