A Jamaica Plain-based author released a pulp-fiction crime thriller last year under a pen name, due to its “dark scenes.”
Going by J.M. Taylor, the author of “Night of the Furies” works as a secondary English teacher in a neighboring suburb. The Gazette agreed to keep his real identity secret.
“I wouldn’t want my students to read the book, so I can’t even tell them it exists,” he told the Gazette. However, his school administration knows about the novel.
“The pseudonym hampers me, but it needs to be that way,” he said.
“Night of the Furies” retells the ancient Greek myth of Orestes, setting it in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s.
In surviving Greek dramas, Orestes’ father, Agamemnon, came home in triumph from the Trojan War, only to be killed by his faithless wife. Orestes had to choose between upholding his father’s honor by avenging his death, or following the law against killing a family member. He chose to kill his mother, but was then pursued by the Furies—deities of vengeance—until the goddess Athena pardoned him.
Taylor said he started writing the novel 25 years ago on the back of a poster of punk rocker Johnny Rotten, the former Sex Pistols frontman.
He said the book “combines my love of Boston history, Greek myths, and the many, many stories my grandfather told me about growing up in East Boston during the ’30s and ’40s…Many of the scenes in the book are either twisted versions of his life, or fictionalized accounts of actual crimes.”
“In my story, Giorgio’s father is a small-time gangster,” Taylor said. “The boy overhears his mother plotting her husband’s murder, so he fakes his own death, then spends 30 years planning to murder her.”
Real-life historic settings and events include old Scollay Square, where Government Center is now, and the Cocoanut Grove fire. Giorgio “even has a run-in with one of [former mayor and governor] James Michael Curley’s dirty tricksters,” Taylor said.
This is Taylor’s first novel, though he has published stories under his real name. The book was released in November and is available at Brookline Booksmith.