Ernie Boch Jr. Bought a Mention in Dennis Lehane’s New Book World Gone By

Boch gave money to one of Lehane's favorite charities, so the author named a character after him.


For die-hard Dennis Lehane fans who’ll be headed to the bookstore today to buy his newest book, World Gone By, here’s a fun fact to look for while reading: Ernie Boch Jr. is a character in the novel.

That’s right, the Ernie Boch.

The skinny-scarf-wearing, auto-dealing Berklee grad gets a mention in the book on page 247 and then later on page 276 (in our advance copy).

On 247:

“You still related to Boch?”

“Ernie?” The little man nodded. “Married my older sister, divorced her, and married my younger sister. They’re happy.”

“He still a master?”

“There’s a Monet been hanging in the Tate in London since ’35 that Ernie painted in a weekend.”

Then on 276:

But just in case, he’d had Bobo’s brother-in-law, the forger’s forger, Ernie Boch, on standby if the need arose.

The need arose.

Ah, so Ernie Boch’s a forger, eh? What are you implying, Lehane?

While the reasoning behind why Boch’s character is a forger remains unknown, Boch’s publicist Peggy Rose says it isn’t some surprise dig and that Boch is well aware he has a character named after him in World Gone By.

In fact, Boch paid for that privilege, according to Rose, who explained that Boch had attended an event hosted by Lehane and gave money to one of the author’s favorite charities, the MSPCA. In exchange, Lehane promised Boch a part in World Gone By.

This MSPCA story is perfectly plausible. Lehane indeed has a soft spot for animals.

Rose also shared that another one of her clients, Michael Goldstein, the CEO of Empire Loan, also gave money to charity, earning him a mention in the book as well. Rather than asking Lehane to use his name, however, Goldstein bought a mention for his wife, Allison Picott, instead.

Picott is mentioned on page 42:

All the front-pew celebrities were on the streets or milling in front of the church now. The handsome young mayor, Jonathan Belgrave, and his pretty, even younger wife, Vanessa, exchanged pleasantries with Allison Picott and Deborah Minshew, both young wives who had husbands serving overseas…

In the book, Lehane notes that Allison Picott’s husband “married up.” Huh. Could that be a friendly zing at Goldstein?

The truth is, Lehane has never been shy about naming characters after real people in his books.

In 2013, after losing his beagle Tessa, Lehane offered the reward of a book mention to anyone who returned her. (Sadly, no one did.) And in 2014, he offered any fans the chance to bid for a mention in World Gone By if they gave to the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation.

Even Rose herself has been in a Lehane novel. “I was a character in Moonlight Mile,” she said. “It’s a priceless, wonderful, and unforgettable experience. In [the book], I am Angie’s best friend!”


Read our Q&A with Lehane from the March issue.