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Live by Night: A Novel (Joe Coughlin Series) Paperback – May 14, 2013
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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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Others will no doubt write about plot specifics. I will not because I do not want to spoil the read for people who buy the book. I do agree with those who compare if to the Godfather book. There are some differences because Coughlin is obviously not Italian and his father is a cop. But Lahane develops a great story based on Coughlin's life starting as a petty criminal and going on from there.
“I picked a dark blue, double-breasted Armani from my closet—one of several I received from a client in lieu of cash, found the appropriate shoes, tie, and shirt, and before you could say, “GQ,” I was looking good enough to eat.”
Good enough to eat. That's not very cute or fresh. It distracts the reader like a sore thumb.
“The young doorman, with cheeks so smooth he must've skipped puberty altogether, opened the heavy brass door and said, "Welcome to the Ritz Carlton, sir." He meant it, too, his voice trembling with pride that I'd chosen his quaint little hotel.”
I truly can’t imagine any doorman’s voice, young or old, actually “trembling” with pride, can you? I think this is an example of a writer trying too hard to “write.” If Mr. Lehane were truly “in the scene,” he wouldn't observe this or write it. Another thing: the Ritz Carlton (there is one) is not a “quaint little hotel.” It just isn't, and it is jarring to hear it characterized that way. It’s not important; it’s just unnecessarily wrong.
“My shoes clacked with military crispness on the marble floor, and the sharp creases of my pants reflected in the brass ashtrays.”
Okay, there are floor standing brass ashtrays. Some are columnar and very shiny. They distort what they reflect and it’s not a likely place to observe the sharp detail of “sharp creases” in one’s pants. You wouldn't.
Just one more:
“He crossed the carpet in three long strides, his Jack Kennedy smiled extended just behind his hand. I took the hand. “Hi, Jim."
I imagine floating dentures, hovering in the air behind his hand. I know he doesn’t mean this, but say it properly, please. Mr. Lehane is getting to a clever observation, but he bungles it.
I got by all this and more of the same to generally enjoy the story. I just wonder, with a little frustration, why this author doesn’t take the time to polish his work before releasing it. In a practical sense, he doesn’t have to, I know. Many readers don’t notice these kinds of flaws and could care less.
All in all, it was a good enough book, but not of the top shelf variety where all the words matter.
I gave it a chance and was glad I did. Yes the two characters, though not together in this book are destined to be a couple but this is NOT a romantic comedy or "chick-lit". It IS Dennis LeHane, dirty, grimy, real. Good stuff and I will keep reading this series.
A Drink Before the War seems to have been written by someone else altogether- someone with less maturity and less talent.
It is the first of a series of detective novels with the duo Patrick and Angie. The dialog is stretched to the limit with overused, and trite phrases that are meant to be razor sharp ant; maybe Lehane finally got into his stride, but at no time does it compare to the professionally executed Mystic River.
I may try another of Dennis Lehane's books, but nothing