Men from Boys

Men from Boys

by John Harvey


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What actions must a boy take to become a man? One might use a razor to clear his first growth of beard, while another could employ it as a weapon — both actions might be a fitting rite of passage.

In these dazzling works of fiction, seventeen masters of crime and suspense explore what it means to be a son, what it means to be a father, what it means to be a man. Spanning continents and decades, the stories are set in interconnected worlds both instantly recognizable and astonishingly believable, from long stretches on a dry Texas highway to a bleak London alley, from the claustrophobic confines of an after-hours backroom poker game to a rundown jazz joint in Manhattan.

Amid card sharks, revolvers, and shallow graves, the characters who inhabit these stories strive to discover what is right, what will give them dignity, what will earn them respect. Whether at the age of ten or thirty-five, all will come face-to-face with a situation that will brutally separate the men from the boys.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060762858
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/31/2005
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,061,661
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

John Harvey is the author of the richly praised sequence of ten Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, Lonely Hearts, was named by The Times (London) as one of the "100 Best Crime Novels of the Century." Flesh and Blood, his first novel featuring Frank Elder, was awarded the Crime Writers Association Silver Dagger for Fiction in 2004. He is also a poet, dramatist, and occasional broadcaster.

Read an Excerpt

Men from Boys

By John Harvey

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 John Harvey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060762853

Dancing Towards the Blade

Mark Billingham

He was always Vincent at home.

At school there were a few boys who called him 'Vince', and 'Vinny' was yelled more often than not across the playground, but his mother and father never shortened his name and neither did his brothers and sisters whose own names, in turn, were also spoken in full.

'Vincent' around the house then, and at family functions. The second syllable given equal weight with the first by the heavy accent of the elder members. Not swallowed. Rhyming with 'went'.

Vincent was not really bothered what names people chose to use, but there were some things it was never pleasant to be called.


'Fucking coon.'

'Black coon. Fucking black bastard...'

He had rounded the corner and stepped into the passageway to find them waiting for him. Like turds in long grass. A trio of them in Timberland and Tommy Hilfiger.

Not shouting, but simply speaking casually. Saying what they saw. Big car. Hairy dog. Fucking black bastard...

Vincent stopped, caught his breath, took it all in.

Two were tallish -- one abnormally thin, the other shavei headed -- and both cradling cans of expensive lager. The third was shorter and wore a baseball cap, the peak bent an pulled down low. He took a swig of Smirnoff Ice, then bega to bounce on the balls of his feet, swinging the frosted glass bottle between thumb and forefinger.

'What you staring at, you sooty cunt?'

Vincent reckoned they were fifteen or so. Year eleven boys. The skinny one was maybe not even that, but all c them were a little younger than he was.

From somewhere a few streets away came the noise of singing, tuneless and incoherent, the phrases swinging like bludgeons. Quick as a flash, the arms of the taller boys were in the air, lager cans clutched in pale fists, faces taut wit: blind passion as they joined in the song.

'No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us, we don' care...'

The smaller boy looked at Vincent and shouted above the noise, 'Well?'

It was nearly six o'clock and starting to get dark. The match had finished over an hour ago but Vincent had guessed there might still be a few lads knocking about. He'd seen couple outside the newsagent as he'd walked down the ramp from the tube station. Blowing on to bags of chips. Tits an guts moving beneath their thin, replica shirts. The away fan were long gone and most of the home supporters were already indoors, but there were others, most who'd already forgotten the score, who still wandered the streets, singing and drinking. Waiting in groups, a radio tuned to 5 Live. Standing in lines on low walls, the half-time shitburgers turning to acid in their stomachs, looking around for it...

The cut-through was no more than fifteen feet wide and ran between two three-storey blocks. It curled away from the main road towards the block where Vincent lived at the far end of the estate. The three boys who barred his way were gathered around a pair of stone bollards, built to dissuade certain drivers from coming on to the estate. From setting fire to cars on people's doorsteps.

Vincent answered the question, trying to keep his voice low and even, hoping it wouldn't catch. 'I'm going home...'

'Fucking listen to him. A posh nigger...'

The skinny boy laughed and the three came together, shoulders connecting, forearms nudging one another. When they were still again they had taken up new positions. The three now stood, more or less evenly spaced across the walkway, one in each gap. Between wall and bollard, bollard and bollard, bollard and wall...

'Where's home?' the boy in the cap said.

Vincent pointed past the boy's head. The boy didn't turn. He raised his head and Vincent got his first real look al the face, handsome and hard, shadowed by the peak of the baseball cap. Vincent saw something like a smile as the boy brought the bottle to his lips again.

'This is the short cut,' Vincent said. 'My quickest way...'

The boy in the cap swallowed. 'Your quickest way home is via the airport.' The smile that Vincent had thought he'd seen now made itself very evident. 'You want the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow, mate...'

Vincent chuckled softly, pretending to enjoy the joke. He saw the boy's face harden, watched him raise a hand and jab a finger back towards the main road.

'Go round.'

Vincent knew what he meant. He could walk back and take the path that led around the perimeter of the estate, approach his block from the other side ...


Excerpted from Men from Boys by John Harvey Copyright © 2005 by John Harvey. Excerpted by permission.
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