Friday, June 21, 2013

Live By Night - Dennis Lehane

He's not a gangster. He's an outlaw. So says Joe Coughlin at different times during conversations with his father, his friend Dion, his lover Gabriela, and in deep conversations with himself, but the reader knows differently. And finally, so does Joe ...

Set against the backdrop of Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida during the prohibition years, Lehane's most recent novel spins a tale of the youngest son of a Boston cop who has been lost and trying to prove himself since he was a child living in his brother's shadows and craving his mother's love and attention and his father's acknowledgment. Under those pressures, he comes up the loser and instead straggles to the streets and the company of neighborhood toughs. Neighborhood toughs that become his cadre and soon his way of finding a way up and away from anonymity.

Too bad that the recognition he gets leads him to bleeding in an alley, being abandoned to prison by friends and father, losing a lover, being pressed into service by mob leaders and challenged by other mob leaders, gradually facing the fact the he ... is ... a ... gangster.

The question that simmers in the reader of this latest Lehane page-turner is, "Can he be redeemed?"  There are other questions too ... What price will a man's soul pay to prove himself ?  Is revenge ever worth the plotting and execution? Is heaven really here on Earth and have we really blown it? Can a life of crime ever be abandoned for a life of benign goodness or will past crimes always be visited on us? What about friendship and trust between criminal rogues - is it really possible?

Excellent and fast read, Dennis. Keep crankin' em out!

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