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Live by Night: A Novel (Coughlin Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
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From New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane comes this epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties—now a Warner Bros. movie starring Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller.
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.
“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 fictioncrime, family, passion, betrayalset 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)) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B007HC3PUG
- Publisher : William Morrow; Reprint edition (October 2, 2012)
- Publication date : October 2, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 1304 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 417 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #89,872 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Thus opens Live by Night. It is 1926, years before this flash-forward. Joe is 20. Though his father, Thomas, is a senior police commander, Joe has been a practicing criminal since the age of 13, and he's very good at it. He's also easy to like. The novel follows him from his days as a small-time crook through his involvement in first one Boston gang, then another, to his rise as the crime boss of the Gulf Coast answering only to "the boys" (Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky) in New York. The action shifts from Boston to Tampa to Havana, dwelling on his involvement with an engaging young prostitute named Emma Gould to his marriage later in life to a brilliant and beautiful Afro-Cuban woman named Graciela. The story is written with a sure hand: action-packed, full of surprise shifts and revelations, and populated with credible characters, including not just the bosses but the spear-carriers, too.
In The Given Day; Gone, Baby, Gone; and Shutter Island, the literary phenomenon Dennis Lehane laid bare the dark underbelly of Boston society, peopling his novels with complex and conflicted characters and finding the good in bad people and the bad in good. Live by Night, his recent, Edgar Award-winning novel, picks up the tale of the talented Coughlin clan where The Given Day left them, following son Joe, who featured in the earlier tale as a young boy.
Live by Night is crowded with smart, thoughtful gangsters with whom Joe finds himself on the losing side more than once despite his obvious intelligence. Joe is tested in more ways than one, struggling with his Catholic upbringing as he rejects the existence of God and Heaven ("You didn't die and go to a better place; this was the better place because you weren't dead.") and pondering whether he can be certain of anything except his own, elusive certainty. "Things weren't ever what they were supposed to be; they were what they were, and that was the simple truth of it, a truth that didn't change just because you wanted it to."
The title of this superior crime story is shorthand for the environment in which Joe and his counterparts carry out their trade. As Emma tells him, "We're not God's children, we're not fairy-tale people in a book about true love. We live by night and dance fast so the grass can't grow under our feet. That's our creed."
In Charlestown, Joe meets Maso Pescatore, a big time gangster. Maso wants Joe's father Thomas to order a raid on one of Albert White's warehouses. Thomas orders one of his underlings to hit the warehouse, and it is destroyed. In return for the favor, Maso gives Joe protection offers Joe a job when he get out of jail. Joe is now head of rum distribution in Tampa, he brings Dion along from his old gang for protection, and leans on some of the people who control the distribution of rum to end the bottlenecks, but in order to really control the supply routes of rum distribution in Florida, he has to win over Esteban Suarez, to do that, Joe has to steal guns from a US warship to foment a revolution against President Machado of Cuba. The raid would also impress Graciella Corrales, a Cuban exile, who Joe has developed an incredible lust for. Incredibly, Joefs gang pulls off the raid on the warship, Joe and Esteban become partners, and Joe and Graciella become lovers. From then on, Joe takes on anyone who seeks to unseat him from his growing rum empire, the head of the local Klan, to the Bible thumping fundamentalist daughter of the local sheriff, but he doesnft kill anyone who stands in his way he just comes to mutually understood agreements with all of them. So what happens when Maso comes to Tampa with his son Digger in tow? Does Maso plan to give Joe more territory to control? After all, profits in the rum business are up substantially. Or does Maso have something else in mind for Joe?
I did not like this book. I was expecting better from the author of such books as Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby Gone, but I have several complaints about this book. Everything seems to come too easy for Joe Coughlin, hefs in a car accident, gets beaten to a pulp by cops, gets stabbed in prison, and yet comes out of prison and stages a raid against the US Navy, with a small gang of raiders and pulls it off. Every time Joe got into a tough situation, I had a feeling he would get out of it, because he got out of every situation up to that point. Also, there is some historical content in this book, like the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, two suspected anarchists who were executed, or Honey Fitz, John Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston, and former congressman, or John Ringling, head of the famous circus, but he mentions these names in passing and does not really weave these names into the story. Lehene tries to weave Lucky Luciano into the story too, but by the time Luciano and his sidekick Mayer Lansky co,me into the picture, itfs much too late in the book for Luciano and Lansky to get more than a cursory mention. Sometimes Lehane lapses into cliche, I almost fell off my chair when Lehane mentioned cement shoes. This is a pre-eminant writer of crime drama? Ifve heard the phrase cement shoes in every bad gangster film Ifve seen.
That is not to say that there are not iinteresting elememnts in this book. Emma Gould is an intreresting character, but she is presumed dead and forgotten for most of the book. The Klansman could have been an interesting character if given more space to develop, but hefs in and out of the book, Loretta Figgis, an Amy Semple McPherson type evangelist, is perhaps the most interesting character in the book, and could have been an intesting lead character, but again is treated as an afterthought by Lehane. These interesting elements are never fully synthesized into a cohesive novel, so I found vast elements of this book unintersting, and nothing changed that impression.
Live By Night. Living by the reputation of its author.
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The book traces his "gangster life" in Boston before an arrest (a time in which he falls for a leading gangster's girl), his time in prison, and his subsequent life in prohibition era Tampa.
The book wasn't a bad read, it was just a little hard to believe. Coughlin has real issues with killing people, which is surprising given he's become a Mafia boss (albeit local). There is a good reason for much of his hesitancy, but it feels as if Lehane is trying to keep Coughlin likeable, rather than being honest.
There are a couple of morals: greed begets evil and good can come from bad.
It also very clearly illustrates everything that is wrong with prohibition - if people want it, they will get it, and, if you make it illegal, you just create and enrich the illegal providers.
One quote from the book, admittedly taken out of context, really sums it up: "We live by night and dance fast so the grass can’t grow under our feet. That’s our creed.”
Interesting to read that Batista was initially seen as the rescuer of the Cuban people from the Machado regime - something went wrong there, eh?
Towards the end, I had a feeling about how it would finish and really hoped that it wouldn't....but, sadly, it did.
The novel follows the criminal career path of Joe Coughlin, one of the brothers from The Given Day, from the mid 20's, through the Depression, to the mid 30's. Joe, originally from Boston, earns a place in the Pescatore family and is moved to Tampa to oversee the bootlegging and speakeasy businesses during the prohibition era. Without giving too much of the story away Joe has an arch enemy who always returns to haunt him and there are also a couple of women to complicate his life. There are also cameo appearances from his father and brothers.
The other thing that slightly annoyed me was that Lehane has tried to make Joe, a gangster, or outlaw as he describes himself, with a conscience. Obviously he thinks this will make him a more sympathetic character and more acceptable to his readers. Myself, I would have preferred it if Joe was a bit more ruthless but then again that would have significantly shortened the story !
It is at times quite violent but I understand the years of prohibition could be and if you read the blurb on the dust jacket you know what to expect. It has a great ring of authenticity, great plot and great characters. It is, quite simply, superb.
Incidentally, I looked at the reviews of the people giving this book only one star and they don't seem to like much of anything they read which is a shame.