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Dennis Lehane gives Boston audience peek at his new novel

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Author Dennis Lehane reads from his new novel, “Since We Fell,” at an event in Watertown.Mark Shanahan

Dennis Lehane's new book is due out in May, but not much beyond its title — "Since We Fell" — is known about it. Or was known about it.

The Boston-bred author previewed his latest novel during an appearance Tuesday at Earfull, an evening of readings and unplugged music performances at the Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. (The Earfull series, begun 15 years ago by Newtonville Books proprietor Tim Huggins and rocker/writer Jen Trynin, used to be held at the dearly departed Kendall Cafe.)

By way of an introduction, Huggins read just a few of the highlights of Lehane's impressive resume, which includes the crime dramas "Gone Baby Gone" and "Shutter Island," a consulting producer's role on "Boardwalk Empire," and a writing credit on "The Wire."


"And then there was the novel that became that Clint Eastwood movie. . .," said Huggins.

"Mystic Pizza," Lehane hollered.

Once on stage, the author explained that he set his new book in modern-day Western Massachusetts — the Pioneer Valley, to be exact — because he's had enough, at least for now, of speakeasies, Model Ts, and the Prohibition-era milieu of much of his recent work, including "Live By Night" and "World Gone By."

"Since I've written feels like a [expletive] of historicals," said Lehane, "I wanted to write something with Google and cellphones and hygiene."

He then read, briskly, the first chapter of "Since We Fell," which concerns a young woman in Northampton whose father walked out on the family when she was a girl. Who was he? What was he? By the time Lehane was done reading, the audience was hooked.

Tuesday's Earfull event also featured a reading by writer James Scott and music by Christian McNeill and Jesse Dee. The next session, Nov. 15, will feature words by Tom Perrotta and Lily King, and music by Tanya Donelly and the Needy Sons. We're told Lehane will be back in the spring when "Since We Fell" is out.