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Live by Night: (Coughlin, Book 2) (Joe Coughlin Series) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 2, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 924 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Coughlin Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2012: The story might sound a bit familiar: A cop’s son falls in with bad guys and becomes one. But in Lehane’s hands, the Prohibition-era tale of Joe Coughlin’s rise to criminal power is both fresh and nuanced, packed with guns, booze, and babes as it roars from Boston to Tampa to Cuba. As Coughlin crosses deeper into the dark side--among those who “live by night and dance fast”--he provokes the question that sustains this propulsive narrative: Can a man be a good mobster and a good person at the same time? Incredibly, Lehane, who becomes more masterful with each book, has us rooting for Coughlin even as he slowly becomes the kind of monster mobster he once reviled and rebelled against. --Neal Thompson

From the Back Cover

Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one—neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover—can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa's Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.

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Product Details

  • Series: Joe Coughlin Series (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060004873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060004873
  • ASIN: 0060004878
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (924 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lehane has written a taut, exciting story about a Prohibition Era criminal that delivers on many levels. Live by Night starts quickly and moves at fevered speed through the Boston underworld, Charlestown prison and the Tampa waterfront. The characters, especially Joe Coughlin, are immediately accessible and many layered. The plot is almost unbearably tense at times but the novel also contains a believable love story and historical color.

At its best, Live by Night carries subtle echoes of the Godfather movies and the books of Raymond Chandler. The dialogue sparkles as when Coughlin explains why he does not want to be a noble person: "I've got nothing against noble people. I've just noticed they rarely live past forty." The woman answers, "Neither do gangsters;" to which Coughlin cracks in Marlowe-like fashion: "True, but we eat in better restaurants."

The exploration of Coughlin's descent deeper into the rules of the night is the backbone of the novel. He initially insists that he is an outlaw rather than a gangster but begins to accept the latter label after he has killed a man. He improves the working condition of prostitutes in his employ and can respect an honest policeman but is capable of whatever level of ruthlessness his job requires. He explains: "This was why they became outlaws. To live moments the insurance salesmen of the world, the truck drivers, and lawyers and bank tellers and carpenters and Realtors would never know. Moments in a world without nets - none to catch you and none to envelop you."

And Lehane makes all of this believable as the reader is forced to view the almost unacceptably harrowing experiences of Coughlin in prison.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the opening paragraph of this new novel by Dennis Lehane, the hero of our story Joe Coughlin finds himself with his feet in cement and about to tossed overboard into the water off Tampa Florida. The novel then flashes back to telling Joe's story beginning in 1926.
"Live by Night" is the second in a planned trilogy of stories exploring the early part of the 20th century. The first book, "The Given Day" was an utterly brilliant story examining the country in the period just following World War 1 and featured Danny Coughlin, Joe's older brother.
This book stands on its own but I do recommend that readers pick up the first book when they can.
"Live by Night" will be compared by many to the "Godfather" story as it is not a mystery like Lehane usually writes. It is a sprawling saga about a petty criminal who happens to be the son of the Assistant Chief Superintendent of the Boston police department. Joe Coughlin has chosen a path unlike his father Thomas or his brother Danny who also was a member of the police department. Though his family are not major characters, nevertheless their mark is left on Joe for his entire life.
He works for one of the crime bosses in the era of Prohibition and finds himself dealing with various crime syndicate characters as he tries to work himself up the ladder of success by various illegal dealings.
Joe is a fascinating lead because the path he has chosen for himself is often at odds with his beliefs however as the story evolves, he becomes more infamous and conflicted living in a world of violence.
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I've been a fan of Dennis Lehane ever since I picked up "Gone, Baby, Gone" on a whim in my local library. Much like Cormac McCarthy, he writes so well that I admire his use of language and style even as I realize he's describing some pretty horrific stuff. Even a great writer, however, can hit a bump once in a while, and that bump you just heard was his newest novel, "Live By Night."

The second book in a planned trilogy that began with the amazing "The Given Day," "Live By Night" tells the story of Joe Coughlin, the younger brother of "The Given Day's" cop Danny Coughlin, who starts as a petty criminal in 1920s Boston and rises to rule a criminal empire in Depression-era Tampa. One of Lehane's many gifts is his ability to bring both rich and seedy backgrounds alive, so whether it's a swank Boston hotel or a backwoods cabin in rural Florida the descriptions are vividly colored--including the many shootings, stabbings, hangings and other methods of violent death that also are a Lehane trademark. This isn't sanitized James Patterson we're talking about here.

Other than choosing to set Coughlin's fiefdom in Tampa, where he lives part of the year, the story Lehane tells here is really nothing that hasn't been seen in other novels about gangsters, and that's where most of the problems with the book lie. Like other reviewers I did find the plot highly reminiscent of "The Godfather," although Mario Puzo could have only dreamed of being able to pull off the tightly written confrontation scenes that Lehane does. Another problem I had is that Lehane has a fantastic ear for modern dialogue ... which shows up just a little too often in a novel set in the 1920s and 1930s.
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