It's back to catching up on reviews! Today I have my review for Dennis Lehane's Live By Night that first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers on October 5th. It's appearing here with their permission.
Picking up after his epic The Given Day, Dennis Lehane takes the second book in his historical trilogy through the Prohibition Era. Joe Coughlin is the troublesome son of a Boston police captain; whenever anyone tries to label Joe a gangster, he insists he’s an outlaw and there’s a difference.
A stint in jail connects the young outlaw with a mob boss and then a position in Ybor, Florida, running rum. Wheeling and dealing, forging relationships and running out the competition, Joe proves his worth to the bosses. However, his determined efforts to remain an outlaw in the world of mobsters may prove to be his Achilles heel.
Live by Night could give an onion a run for its money when it comes to layers. At the heart of the novel, readers will find a love story wrapped in a crime story, infused with a character study, submerged in a social novel and topped off in a period piece. However, where an onion can easily peel away its layers, Live by Night’s layers are not so easily separated. Their complexity and interdependence make the book nearly impossible to put down.
Lehane’s extensive knowledge of both the period and the geography is undeniable. The panoply of culture and social status that composes the Southern Florida setting builds an atmosphere reminiscent of both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Langston Hughes.
But there’s no denying Lehane’s distinct sound. His sharp dialogue, dark humor and stunning prose make gritty gangsters simply gorgeous. Whether you’ve read The Given Day or not, Live by Night is a must.
Live by Night is available from William Morrow in hardcover (ISBN: 9780060004873). It is also available as an unabridged audio (ISBN: 9780062204790) from HarperAudio, narrated by Jim Frangione.