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Live by Night: (Coughlin, Book 2) (Joe Coughlin Series) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 2, 2012
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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
“LIVE BY NIGHT transcends the familiar and assumes an unimpeachable reality of its own. . . . [A] meticulously crafted portrait of our violent national past.” (Washington Post Book World)
“Lehane’s novel carves its own unique place in the Prohibition landscape. . . . This is an utterly magnetic novel on every level, a reimagining of the great themes of popular fiction—crime, family, passion, betrayal—set against an exquisitely rendered historical backdrop.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Masterful. . . . Lehane has created a mature, quintessentially American story that will appeal to readers of literary and crime fiction alike.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“LIVE BY NIGHT is Crime Noir 101, as taught by the best of its current practitioners. . . . A sentence-by-sentence pleasure. You are in the hands of an expert. And you’ll know it.” (Janet Maslin, New York Times)
Top Customer Reviews
"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. Even when he falls in love, it is due more to his criminal connections than his trying to find romance in normal places
The story shifts from the streets of Boston to a prison in Massachusetts to the Ybor section of Tampa as Coughlin maneuvers his way through violent confrontations, graphic deaths, political machinations, crooked cops, Cuban refugees and rum running all the way to a heart stopping conclusion.
This is a book to be absorbed slowly and carefully as Lehane has written a colorful and complex cast of characters who often disappear at some point in the story only to resurface at critical points later in the book.
Loyalties are made and broken, partnerships are negotiated in both legal and illegal ways and often end in brutal fashion. Some of the violence in this book is tough to deal with but it all makes sense in the world that surrounds the society and dealings of the USA in the mid 20's to early 30's timeline.
How Coughlin works his way to the top of the crime world and finds true love makes for a fascinating tale. How he changes his personality yet retains his humanity is beautifully described by Lehane. The history of Prohibition as well as the evolution of Cuba and it's ties to Florida will provide excellent education to the reader.
Lehane is famous for a series of novels featuring the private eye duo of Kenzie and Gennaro including "Gone Baby Gone" among others. He also has written a number of stand alone mysteries including the amazing "Shutter Island" which has one of the most stunning endings ever written.
This new book like the first book in the trilogy is a major departure for him and it is a good one. Readers expecting a mystery may be disappointed but they need to slowly dip into this chronicle. Loads of thrills, tension, excitement and surprises await a dedicated reader. And at the end, I along with others will be looking forward to the final part of this gripping trilogy.
This book has already had film rights sold and it will undoubtedly could be excellent but will have a tough time living up to the novel. Read this!
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. There were some lines that were just jarringly out of place--to be fair that was a flaw that showed up in "The Given Day" as well, just not as much. Still, I was reading and for the most part enjoying the book.
And then it happened, something I never thought in all the years I've read his books that Dennis Lehane would ever do.
He completely telegraphs the ending. Completely. In the past sometimes he's foreshadowed a little, but this one may as well have been on a digital billboard in Las Vegas because it was so obvious. Even as I hoped against hope he wouldn't do it, that it was just a distraction from how it was really going to end, he did it. And for that, I take away a star.
I do want to clarify that "Live By Night" is not a terrible novel by any means. A sub-par Dennis Lehane book is still pretty good. One does not need to read "The Given Day" before starting this book either, it stands alone. But when I think of how often I've been blown away reading his novels because they're just so damn GOOD, reading "Live By Night" was a letdown for me. I'm not ready to jump off the Lehane bandwagon though. I know what he's capable of producing, and I want to see how this trilogy ends. I have faith. Hopefully not misplaced.