Visitation Street: A Novel (Dennis Lehane)
Chosen by Denis Lehane for his eponymous imprint, Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street is a riveting literary mystery set against the rough-hewn backdrop of the New York waterfront in Red Hook.
It’s summertime in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a blue-collar dockside neighborhood. June and Val, two fifteen-year-olds, take a raft out onto the bay at night to see what they can see.
And then they disappear. Only Val will survive, washed ashore; semi-conscious in the weeds.
This shocking event will echo through the lives of a diverse cast of Red Hook residents. Fadi, the Lebanese bodega owner, hopes that his shop will be the place to share neighborhood news and troll for information about June’s disappearance. Cree, just beginning to pull it together after his father’s murder, unwittingly makes himself the chief suspect, but an enigmatic and elusive guardian is determined to keep him safe.
Val contends with the shadow of her missing friend and a truth she buries deep inside. Her teacher Jonathan, a Julliard School dropout and barfly, wrestles with dashed dreams and a past riddled with tragic sins.
keeps his head down so other patrons don’t embarrass themselves by saying hello without remembering his name. The bartender has a beard like Abraham Lincoln. He smokes American Spirits and drinks his coffee black. Twice a week he buys a tin of mints. “Hero Man,” he says, placing a coaster in front of Fadi. “Excuse me?” “Hero Man, right? You found that girl’s body. First drink’s on the house.” A few customers look in their direction. They raise their glasses. The walls of the Dockyard are
items are either impossible to lift without attracting notice—diapers and big boxes of detergent—or stowed behind the counter. The kid’s got the low-slung gangster slouch and the oversized duds. But his jeans, which on first glance seemed conventionally baggy, are just too big. They’re faded, a little dirty, and of no make that Fadi’s heard of. His white sneakers are chunky, more suitable for geriatric ambling than shooting hoops. The kid’s on his fourth circle now, staring down the deodorant
out for a quick kiss or worse. “I’m sorry,” she says. “It was an emergency.” Val is already planning what to say to the headmistress when she’s hauled into her office. She wonders how long June’s disappearance will excuse her behavior. Mr. Sprouse looks both amused and startled. He smiles and shakes his head. Then he waves her on, away from the school. He puts a finger over his lips. “Go,” he says. “Go.” Val hesitates, unsure whether or not to follow his instructions. “Go,” Mr. Sprouse says,
doesn’t give straight answers. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know them. In fact, the less answer you get, the more she knows.” Celia puts down her eyeliner and looks at Cree. “Anything you want to ask me, baby boy?” “Nah, Cee. I’m cool.” Cree knows that Celia’s no longer down with talking to the spirits. She’s been putting her gift to rest of late, apparently because she doesn’t want Monique burdened with a whole bunch of dead people. This is part of the reason she sends Monique to the
reaches for the lamp next to the table, but Jonathan swats her hand away. “Jesus,” Val says. “You can’t be here.” “We had a sub in Music Appreciation. She made us listen to something called madrigals.” “You’re not supposed to be here.” “Says my dad.” “Says me.” She crosses the living room and sits on the couch. “I can’t believe he beat you up. He’s an asshole.” “I would have done the same thing.” Jonathan checks that the blinds over the window next to his bed are as flush to the glass as