The new season of HBO’s critically slobbered-over The Wire boasts a collection of behind-the-scenes talent that’s a dream team for crime fans. Urban noir heavyweights (and good friends) George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and Dennis Lehane have joined series creator David Simon in penning episodes of the Baltimore-based drama. Lehane, a Boston native and acclaimed author of Mystic River and Shutter Island, sat down to talk about the new season, this remarkable collaboration, and his next big book.
Do you four ever get competitive?
Not really…Richard is the closest thing I have to a literary idol, so I absolutely did not want to see his episode. I don’t care if he wrote the worst s— of all time. I’d think, ”That’s better than anything I could do.” I would be totally paralyzed.
The Wire’s first season dealt with drug dealers in Baltimore. The second season dealt with the city’s corrupt unions. So what’s the plan for the third? Crab racketeers?
There’s money in those crabs! [Laughs] But yeah, it’s swinging back toward the vibe of the first season. It’s locked into the city and concerned with the drug wars.
Mystic River was optioned for Clint Eastwood, adapted by one of Hollywood’s top writers, and won all kinds of Oscars. Your beloved Kenzie-Gennaro mysteries were optioned by Paramount. For Ben Affleck to write. So, uh, short of asking you what you were thinking…what were you thinking?
Hmmm. I have to be diplomatic here. Right now they’re under option to Paramount, but I have no idea if we’re going to see a movie. With Hollywood, I don’t believe anything until I see the first reel of film.
A huge book set during the Boston police strike in 1919. My gut says it’s part of a trilogy or a quartet, but I’ve been writing it extremely slowly because I’m going in a very, very different direction. So I can’t f— it up. Because that would be bad. Veeeerrrry bad.