Book Report: Borderline by Gerry Boyle (1998)

I picked up this book from my to-read shelves for two reasons:

  • I just read a book based on a movie starring Madonna, and this book shares the title with one of her early hits.
  • The Robert B. Parker endorsement on the front cover: “Gerry Boyle is the genuine article.”

Man, I hope I get a book published before Robert B. Parker dies so I can get a quote. That would be the highlight of my life, werd. (Except for you, honey, but fortunately you’re not entirely consistent in reading this far into book reports, so I might be safe.)

The book chronicles a freelance writer, former New York Times reporter (not that there’s anything wrong with that), who is working on a travel story following Benedict Arnold’s march and assault on Quebec when he finds a mystery. A man has stepped off of a bus at a rest stop in a small Maine town and didn’t get back on. Jack McMorrow’s curiosity is piqued, and when he finds the man was travelling under a false name and paid for his ticket with a bad check, his big city reporter instincts take over.

So McMorrow investigates this possible crime amid his paying job, an article that follows the path of Arnold’s march on Quebec and ultimate rebuff at the hands of the English at Quebec. As he meanders through his investigation, the police don’t believe him, and actually offer to set him up for a crime to get him out of their small town.

As such, this book has a very Existential subcurrent running through it; McMorrow’s connection to history, personal life, and alienation from the professional law enforcement led me to think of it in those terms before the author/main character invoked the names of Camus and Sartre. So I related to the character in a way I hadn’t before, and I didn’t mind so much the slow pace of the book or the ultimately less-than-climactic resolution.

I won’t dodge Boyle’s work in the future, and I might even spend a couple bucks on further hardbacks in this series. I’m wonder, though, whether prolonged exposure to the book’s pacing and its ultimately only slightly heroic main character might wear upon me.