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Live by Night: A Novel Paperback – December 6, 2016
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"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“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)
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Top Customer Reviews
The central proposition the book explores is whether bad money can lead to good; whether crime and violence can be whitewashed or redeemed. It also takes a look at religious morality versus practical morality. Joe is in many respects an honorable man in a dishonorable trade. He doesn't trade in violence for its own sake but is forced to resort to horrific violence periodically in order to survive. He is loyal to his friends and generous to his enemies. He is untainted by the racism of his era. He is not especially greedy in a world where everyone is greedy. He is, in the author's depiction, a fundamentally good man in a rotten world. And of course, this position is untenable and an awful price has to be extracted.
I must say I found this book less compelling than some of Lehane's wonderful moral tales set in the hard world of South Boston. There were periods when nothing much happens and the narrative tension slackens. The characters don't snap to life, especially the villains who are not sufficiently villainous. Joe's lover is also two-dimensional. The history was kind of interesting but the setting lacked the immediacy of Lehane's contemporary novels. And I thought the book lost momentum when the scene switched from Boston to Florida -- as if the blazing sun bleached and sapped the narrative strength. That said, it was still an interesting read.
"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!
A morality tale at heart, Dennis Lehane's style of short sentences and gritty dialog works well to tell this story.
Outside of one cliff-hanger "miracle", a lot of this feels like everyone in it is caught up in a juggernaut of fate. I mean this in a good way - the outcomes of actions make sense, actions and motivations are clear and understandable (at least after they occur), and people may grow up a little, but they don't fundamentally change.
It is hard to imagine that this won't become a movie or new HBO mini-series - it has everything it needs to be a hit.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, the book bogged down around the 40%, until it got so slow I...Read more