“The FBI couldn’t catch a cold in a pneumonia ward without a rat.”
That remains one of my favorite quotes by a dear friend and a great author, Rick Marinick. If you don’t know Rick’s story, you should check it out—it’s a fascinating one.
The long story short, how’s this for a few career twists: a bouncer, a DA’s assistant, a martial arts expert (the kind that actually used it outside of a Dojo and not in front of some mirror), a Massachusetts (Statie) State Trooper and later an armored car robber, for which he eventually served 10 plus years inside (where he earned his BA and an MA in creative writing from the Boston University Prison Education Program). Once Rick was out, he never looked back. He worked on Boston’s big dig while writing one of the best crime novels of our time, Boyos.
He’s an intense guy, extremely disciplined and he’s more than generous. He’s been trying to get me to give up the heavy weights and return to human form for a long time now, but my discipline is not anywhere close to Rick’s. Two thousand sit-ups a day? At this point it’d take me two thousand years to do two thousand sit-ups (maybe three thousand years). Rick can knock that off in an hour.
There’s no smoke blowing here, amici. Rick is the real deal; tough as nails and authentic as authentic can be. He’s been featured on the A&E Irish mob series Paddy Whacked (see video at bottom) and he’s been a Boston Globe best-selling author.
Check out Rick’s website and the his latest pursuit, a radio show all about crime (how it works and how to prevent crimes from happening to you).
Also check out the video on Rick’s site ... then listen to the Podcasts. His first guest is a legend in non-fiction crime writing—T. J. English, who wrote an incredible account of the Irish gang on the West Side of Manhattan, appropriately titled: The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob.
I read that book three times when it first came out and will reread it at least once more.
Rick has written two crime novels, one of them a legend now in Boston, called Boyos. It is EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reading for anyone into crime fiction and/or what I’m calling urban literature from now on (because really, who’s gonna stop me?)
And below is my review of Boyos after it first came out.
Boyos ... a crime fiction classic. One time short-order cook, junior civil engineer, automobile painter, nightclub bouncer, and “Statie” (a Massachusetts State Trooper), Richard Marinick learned to write in prison. After getting involved “in the life” in South Boston’s underworld, Marinick graduated to armored car heists, and in 1986 “the life” came crashing down on him.
He spent more than ten years in prison where he took creative writing courses, as well as earning two honors degrees (BA and MA) through the Boston University Prison Educational System.
When released from prison, Marinick worked on Boston’s “Big Dig”, and in his spare time on and off the job, wrote what will one day be regarded as a classic crime novel, Boyos.
Boyos is raw and pure magic. It sings the street song in rhythms Marinick no doubt had burned into his being from his years on South Boston’s streets and all the contemplation ten years in prison will provide. A background story that mirrors that of Whitey Bulger (a guy on the FBI’s Most Wanted list prior to 9-11, who managed to fool and make a fool of the entire federal witness protection program, and whose brother was a Massachusetts State Senator and college President), Marinick’s tale of two brothers working under a Bulger-like Irish mobster is riveting from start to finish.
It is a song of South Boston’s streets that will stay in your head long after you’ve finished this compelling read and one that rivals the classic, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (the original Boston born masterpiece by George V. Higgins).
If you’re familiar with the life of any city’s streets, there won’t be much to guess at in Boyos ... the idea of honor amongst thieves has long been put to rest. Government deals rule ... deals that not only forgive murders already committed, but also those yet to come.
The thing that will grip you about Boyos is Marinick’s voice. It is as unique as was Higgins. It is pure. It is brutally honest. It is magic.
And if you’re not familiar with a street life of any kind, Boyos is your new Bible, brother. Take it at face value, because the man knows of what he writes.
Twenty-eight years ago, Dave Gresham read from The Friends of Eddie Coyle in an English class I had the good sense not to sleep through (I never missed Dave’s classes, but often slept through most of my others to be well-rested for football practice--I was never accused of being the sharpest knife in any drawer). That George V. Higgins classic crime novel changed my life. Along with Dave’s help and encouragement over the years, I stuck to a silly dream and continued to write whenever I had the chance.
In an essay for the reader, Marinick describes writing every chance he had while working the Big Dig (after serving more than 10 years for armed robbery). I smiled remembering how I used to try and write scenes to plays between shifts answering phones in a bookmaking office.
Marinick’s voice in Boyos, I have to believe, will catch some other wannabe writer’s ear the way Eddie Coyle had caught my ear so long ago ... and maybe it’ll give them a new direction in life the way The Friends of Eddie Coyle eventually gave me one. It certainly rates right up there with the Higgins classic crime novel of life in and around the Boston underworld.
If you’re into hardboiled crime fiction, Boyos is one you really shouldn’t pass on people. It will be a classic in the genre. It already is for me.
Rick and I, and probably most writers and readers of crime novels and/or urban literature everywhere, share a love of George V. Higgins, especially The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Here’s my tribute to Mr. Higgins over at The Rap Sheet.
Hopefully, I’ll get to keep doing tributes to my friend Rick for a long time to come. Rick, along with Dana King and John McFetridge, write the best organized crime novels around, fact.
Paddy Whacked Part 8 ... with Rick doing some of the narrating ...
And here’s the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana ...