Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: LIVE BY NIGHT, by Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane
William Morrow, 2012
402 pages
Crime / Fiction

I first discovered Dennis Lehane when I stumbled upon a paperback copy of Mystic River. I knew then I loved this writer. And although I then read several more titles, for some odd reason I drifted away from his books. No blame placed on the author whatsoever!

LIVE BY NIGHT has kind of a Departed, or Scarface feel to it. It was layered with an array of characters, three different settings, and constantly twisting plots! The story takes place during prohibition. And even those of us who are considered history-challenged know what happened when booze was outlawed?!? Speakeasies, moonshine, and gangsters sprang up everywhere!

Despite being the son of a Boston police captain, Joe Coughlin, has become an outlaw. He starts out small-time with the Bartolos brothers, Dion and Paolo. Given bad information they decide to hold-up a card game. Little did they know it was Albert White's game. Albert White was bad news. One of the big bad names in Boston. Once Coughlin realizes the error, he also realizes it is too late to stop what is already in motion.

When things get hot in town, and Coughlin knows it is best to back-off some, he commits to once last heist. A bank job. Only problem is, people are onto the game. Cops are tipped off. Nothing goes as planned. Coughlin does time in prison. Attempts are made on his life. He has a chance to turn things around, and takes it, placing himself in the hands of Albert White's enemy, Maso Pescatore.

Tasked with running the operation in Florida, Coughlin begins a new life, improving on his old way of life. He turns the swampy mass of Tampa into a thriving rum-running business for Pescatore. His rise to the top creates a host of enemies. There is no sleep for the man on top when there is always someone scheming to knock you down, or take you out.

Prohibition won't last forever, and as the end of a dry-reign is in sight, Coughlin clearly sees the writing on the wall. What is going to happen to his empire, to his family, to him?

At the movies not long ago, they showed a trailer for an upcoming Ben Affleck film, LIVE BY NIGHT. I knew that was a more recent Lehane novel, and immediately picked myself up a copy. I had to read it. My interest in Lehane has been restored. I devoured the novel in a few nights. it was absolutely absorbing. (Be advised, LIVE BY NIGHT is actually Book 2 in Lehane's Coughlin series).

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and The Vaccination Trilogy

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