Feature

Novel of the week: Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Lehane’s new novel is “Crime Noir 101 as taught by the best of its current practitioners.”

(Morrow, $28)

Dennis Lehane’s new novel is “Crime Noir 101 as taught by the best of its current practitioners,” said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. Technically the sequel to Lehane’s 2008 epic, The Given Day, this more focused offering follows young Joe Coughlin, son of a high-ranking Boston cop, into a prodigal life of Prohibition-era crime. Things get complicated for Joe when he sticks up a speakeasy and falls for a gangster’s moll. Yet even after a prison stint and a promotion to mob heavy, he remains “an intensely appealing character,” while Lehane’s artistry makes the novel “a sentence-by-sentence pleasure.” Not if you like fast-paced drama, said Jennifer Reese in NPR.org. Lehane often overwrites, stuffing his pages with purple prose and far more historical detail than a reader needs. In his contemporary novels, Lehane has been able to “burrow into the dark psyches of his characters” without getting distracted by what they’re wearing. Live by Night “should be so much more exciting than it is.”

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