In late ’90s Brooklyn, simple actions have a long-lasting impact, and not always for the better. The dynamic cast of characters in William Boyle’s turbulent crime thriller Shoot the Moonlight Out learn that the hard way.
Consider teenager Bobby Santovasco. Along with his friend Zeke, the pair do what kids do: They wreak havoc for fun. In their case, it’s throwing objects off a bridge at passing cars on the Belt Parkway. First, it’s harmless. Aluminum cans. Water balloons. But it’s not enough. So, the boys up the stakes—with rocks.
The result is the death of a young woman, Amelia Cornacchia.
Flash forward five years to 2001, where we find Charlie French. A brutish debt collector, he steals a horde of cash from a reluctant client, and stashes it with his friend Max Berry for safekeeping. Bobby, who now works for Max, falls for Francesca Clarke, who inspires him to rob Max’s safe so they can escape the oppressive confines of the neighborhood.
Unbeknownst to Bobby, his stepsister, Lily, has fallen for Jack Cornacchia, a student in her writing class. Jack is a self-styled neighborhood vigilante, who just so happens to be Amelia’s father.
Boyle (A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself) slowly introduces each of his players in chapters from their perspective, deepening the reader’s empathy for each member of the large cast as he digs into their individual losses, hopes and loves. Hailing from Brooklyn himself, Boyle imbues the setting with an air of authenticity and stark realism as his characters leap from the page. Readers can only grasp at the slimmest of hopes in this grim, modern-day noir, but the determination of Boyle’s characters defies expectations. He increases the suspense and intrigue of the story across alternating chapters, seemingly checking in with characters at random as Shoot the Moonlight Out subtly builds towards a collision of lives intertwined and fates inextricably linked.