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VINE VOICEon January 20, 2001
There are soooo many mystery writers out there these days, but there is only a handful who truly produce first-rate work on a consistent basis. Dennis Lehane is definitely a member of this elite, and *Darkness, Take My Hand* demonstrates why.
Like Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and some others in the P.I./lone wolf cop genre, Lehane has written his books in such a way that they are best read "in order," as each book builds on the previous one(s) in terms of the development of his main characters. Consequently, readers should read Lehane's first book, *A Drink Before the War*, before picking up *Darkness, Take My Hand*, which is the second in the series.
In most respects, however, *Darkness* is a richer, deeper, and better-crafted mystery than was Lehane's debut novel. He has utilized a well-worn but still effective plot theme here, that of the long-term serial killer. This provides the basis for the mystery element of the book, and also, perhaps unfortunately, the blood-and-guts angle, as well. Yes, there is a lot of gore in this book, and lots of discussion in graphic detail of the depravities of which human beings are capable. Lehane's work is NOT for the faint of heart.
What separates Lehane from many other mystery writers, even good ones like Robert Parker, is his sheer literary talent. His writing is gloriously rich, descriptive (particularly in terms of his depictions of the Boston area setting for his stories), and insightful, and he goes to great pains to develop in some psychological depth his main characters, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Consequently, this enables Lehane to take his work well beyond the cliches that are so typical of shamus novels.
If you like the work of Parker, Connelly, Crais, Barre, Burke, etc., you should definitely start reading Lehane--in order, of course.
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on November 28, 1999
After devouring this novel I was drained. This is the second in Lehane's series featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro and it really packs a whallup. The first novel, A Drink Before the War, did a fine job of introducing these characters, along with an adequate story. This novel digs deep into the relationships of these people, and all the while we're being pulled through a harrowing serial killer mystery. Lehane has pulled out all the stops here. Sure, there are many authors who will try to shock you with gruesome details, but in this novel it's the sense of the helplessness of the victims that stays with you long after you leave the story. If you're like me, and have already read dozens of rave reviews about this, you'll be about 100 pages into it and will be wondering what the big deal is. Trust me on this: the novel is so well structured and timed that it very slowly begins to build up, as if you're treading water just at the edge of a whirlpool. Slowly and gently the current begins to tug at you, and before you know it you're caught in its grip and being pulled to its depths......God, I'm beginning to sound like a Kirkus Review. Sorry. But the novel is that good and the characters are incredibly well drawn and complex. Here's a quote from the story that will stick with me forever: "We're human, so we're messy."
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on October 5, 2001
This, the second of Lehane�s Kenzie/Gennaro novels, was gripping and suspenseful from prologue to epilogue. We know from reading the prologue that Kenzie and Gennaro are about to go through a harrowing experience. Still, I was not prepared for the chilling and gruesome events that unfold. There are many twists and turns as Lehane sustains a high level of suspense throughout. The writing is very good, although not flawless, and the mystery is well plotted. There are little details here and there that seem implausible, but they are easily overlooked under the sheer weight of the narrative.
I was mildly disappointed in the first Lehane novel (A Drink Before the War) mostly because it seemed like Kenzie was too much of a cheap imitation of Spenser, and the writing seemed a bit amateurish at times (but I still thought it was very entertaining and a good introduction into a new series.) In this one, though, Lehane seems more confident as a writer and Kenzie has become a much more realistic and convincing character. Angie Gennaro is a wonderful character that you can�t help but fall in love with. With this novel, Lehane has definitely become one of my �must read� authors. Highly recommended!
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VINE VOICEon June 24, 2002
Lehane's second thriller is on par with some of James Patterson's best work. Probably only 5-10% of the books I read are ones where I make extra time to read because I can't put it down. This is one of those books. The plot revolves around a serial killer and P.I.s Patrick and Angie.
The cool think about this book is that the serial killer element isn't introduced for 100 pages or so. Most novels introduce all their characters early in a story, but it shows Lehane's strength as a writer when he introduces new characters about 1/3 through the novel and the story continues to flow.
Then Lehane leads us along a thrilling ride full of twists and turns that end up involving characters that all knew each other in some fashion. This book is a lot like James Patterson in that there is a killer who has a personal vendetta against the main characters. Lehane keeps his mystery focused on a group of people who somehow knew each other, and the story doesn't seem far fetched.
There is a lot of violence and a lot of twists. Some authors reveal twists slowly and you wonder the police or FBI hadn't figured it out sooner. This happens all the time in James Patterson stories. Lehane lets the characters discover the truth in a natural progression. The twists don't seem forced.
Lehane actually takes the time to support the twists in the story.
Darkness, Take my Hand is full of gritty violence and a lot of bad things happen to a lot of people. Somehow Patrick and Angie survive it all and even come out on top in the end, although not without some sacrifice on their parts.
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on December 21, 1999
Oh man this is one good read! I can't believe that I didn't know about Patrick and Angie earlier. I am an avid reader and only heard of Dennis Lehane's series last month. I have read "A Drink Before the War" and now "Darkness, Take My Hand" in the past week. I was late to work on Sunday because I couldn't put "Darkness" down. Oh I love the characters. How wonderfully human they are. So full of fault and virtue. The story is dark, moody and riveting. It moves at a fast pace. Almost too fast since I was sad that it was over.
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on August 13, 2003
Dennis Lehane kept me up late last night. I had begun reading 'Darkness, Take My Hand,' and I couldn't put it down. The prologue sets up what promises to be a very tragic story, and Lehane delivers. The prologue leaves a few questions unanswered, and you have to read through the novel to find out what the answers really are.
The second novel in the Kenzie/Gennaro series finds Patrick Kenzie accepting employment from a woman who has recently received a threatening phone call and a picture of her college son in the mail. Quite simply, she wants Kenzie and his partner Angie Gennaro to find out who is stalking her.
Kenzie and Gennaro suspect that the ghoulish Kevin Hurlihy of the Irish mafia in Massachussetts in involved. A quick meeting with the Irish mafia casts a cloud over this suspicion and subsequent work on the case raises new suspects. An old acquaintance of Kenzie's is murdered in grizzly fashion, and Kenzie is left wondering if this has anything to do with the case he is working on.
From this point on, the novel becomes somewhat complicated. The investigation into the threatening calls and photographs grows to include a serial killer or maybe two. The police force, FBI, and Kenzie's walking terror of a friend named Bubba all get involved.
Other crime fiction writers would do well to study Lehane's work. He has mastered the ability to create suspense and tension in a way that so many other authors in the genre have not realized yet. Kenzie and Gennaro, plus the law enforcement officers that work around them, actually do detective work and do not wait for all the clues to conveniently fall in their lap. Lehane finds ways to include twists that aren't quite as shocking as surprising as say James Patterson's, but highly effective. The novel is very dark and comments on the social depravity of Kenzie's surroundings. Gritty is probably an appropriate adjective for this novel.
I would recommend this novel to anyone that likes crime fiction or a good suspenseful story. It is a page turner. A word of caution though, it is very graphic in many descriptions of violence. This novel is not for the ultra-squeemish. It also has some sexually explicit scenes and would not be appropriate for some younger readers. The writing in this novel is simply superior and I give it my highest rating.
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on March 27, 2000
Lehane is a good writer but there was too much violence (hopefully somewhat unrealistic)and he gave some unecessary info on the settings, plots and characters. What I loved most about his book though is... you know how you always want to know more about a character when reading a book, and you feel the writer did not focus enough attention on that character? Well, he did an excellent job on each one of them. I could picture each character and understood their role. It was suspenseful yet predictable for us detective type novels obsessed readers. Try James hadley Chase and you will be able to predict writers like Lehane. Overall he is good and very funny. I had to catch myself a few times on the train from laughing out loud.
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on July 31, 1999
I read the first four Dennis Lehane books this summer (in about 3 weeks!) and have really enjoyed them. I've read all the great private-eye series--Hammet, Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Robert B. Parker--and I think Lehane is really a fresh talent. His characters are occasionally reminiscent of Spenser and company, but not so much that it's distracting. What really distinguishes Lehane, in my view, is his outstanding plots. All the books I've read are very solid mysteries and his detectives, Patrick and Angie, get very involved in solving the mystery, rather than just following an investigation. I chose this one to review because it's an excellent jumping-on point for new readers. It is a truly nerve-tingling, gripping read that manages to make the whole serial-killer milieu fresh. This is the work of a very talented writer who is undoubtedly going to rank with the giants of the PI field.
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on April 15, 2000
If you like to read mysteries, you would be hard-pressed not to love Lehane's Patrick and Angie combination. These two characters are so alive on the pages that you feel like you're with them every step of the way. This book is Lehane's usual page turner filled with the lowlifes of the world. As Angie says in the book, "I'm tired of dealing with psychotics and deadbeats and scumbags and liars on a continual basis. I'm starting to think that's all there is in the world." This is the crux of Lehane's writing. He writes about people who embrace evil and enjoy the pain of others (this also taken from the book). Patrick actually falls in love in this episode. My feeling is that Dennis Lehane is an absolute standout in this genre.
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"Darkness, Take My Hand" is Dennis Lehane's second Kenzie and Gennaro novel. The story starts simply, as the detectives undertake to help protect Jason, the son of a friend. For no clear reason, it appears that a singularly unpleasant gangster has taken a dislike to Jason, a student at the local college. Matters grow complicated quickly when they discover that the gangster in question is not the real source of the threat.
In trying to unravel each mystery in this, the detectives discover yet another. The case appears linked to a string of horrifying killings that have baffled the police. And these crimes recall the bloody work of Alec Hardiman, who was convicted 20 years previously by the expert testimony of Jason's mother. Unfortunately, this criminal remains firmly imprisoned. The is little doubt that somehow Hardiman is influencing events, but evidence builds that there is a team of killers at work and the body count spins out of control.
The horror and tension build relentlessly. Soon Patrick Kenzie realizes that his own loved ones are also intended victims. Together, he and Gennaro struggle to salvage what they can. In the final analysis, though, none of the survivors will escape unscathed. This is noir fiction at it's grimmest, delivered with spellbinding intensity by an exceptional writer.
The book is populated by vivid characters, good and evil. The narrative is terse, and perfect for this kind of fiction. The dialogue between Kenzie and Gennaro sparkles with wry wit that keeps events from overwhelming the reader. I picked up the "Darkness, Take My Hand" to read as a break from some more academic reading, and was literally unable to keep from finishing the book. Lehane's writing style is reminiscent of Andrew Vachss and every bit as good. This is a six star novel in a five star world!
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