Review: Gone, Baby, Gone – Dennis Lehane

gone baby gone cover

Kenzie & Gennaro #4

SYNOPSIS: The tough neighborhood of Dorchester is no place for the innocent or the weak. A territory defined by hard heads and even harder luck, its streets are littered with the detritus of broken families, hearts, dreams. Now, one of its youngest is missing. Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro don’t want the case. But after pleas from the child’s aunt, they open an investigation that will ultimately risk everything—their relationship, their sanity, and even their lives—to find a little girl-lost. – via Goodreads

GRADE 8.5Yes, this was a damn fine read. I can totally see how, of all the books in this series (that I have read so far), this one would get the film deal. It was an intense story to boot, with plenty of characters and a very engaging plot. Things just don’t make sense for quite a while, but you are along with Lehane for the ride. Let me tell you, he doesn’t disappoint, either. I am really happy that Angie and Patrick have finally found each other, and that things are going well since they got together in Sacred. However, when the pair finally dip their toes back into the dark side of private investigation work again for the first time since Desiree Stone, the knowledge that things are going to get rough for them is pretty much self-evident. Hunting lost children is a terribly sad thing, and missing and hurt children are always rough to deal with. Lehane tackles the source material in a gritty and no-nonsense manner, and really gets right down to the gory details of what could go wrong. Lehane, while not going into excruciating details about what happened with certain children, also gave us a sliver more than most authors, and it resonates with you and sickens you at once. It speaks of his craft that, even though things are getting insane, you want to read more. The dialogue was sharp and witty, as always, and the sarcasm ran fluid and effectively throughout the book. Some terrific characters were introduced, and some moral issues were raised and dealt with. Bubba Rogowski makes an appearance again which, naturally, thrilled me endlessly – I truly do enjoy his character. Gone, Baby, Gone is a dark read, but oh-so-worth-it when you make it through the entire ordeal. I was disgusted with Helene McCready, little missing Amanda’s mother, because, unfortunately, there really are such useless and irresponsible people in the world, and it sickens me. Children should be cherished, treasured and cared for, not broken when so young. I am having difficulty expressing what it was like to read this book – it was dark, dramatic, incredibly well-written, it had a good pace and fantastic characters and a heavy whack of evil and there was plenty of action and riveting scenes… I just don’t know how to describe it all. It is a whirlwind story with an intriguing plot that draws you in from the very off, demands your attention, and will dominate you. Read it, if you have not. Even as a standalone novel it should work, though I think it will pack far more punch if you know more on the history of the characters. The book definitely sticks with you when all is said and done, and Dennis Lehane is genuinely not afraid of going against the grain. I love that!

Review: Sacred – Dennis Lehane

dennis lehane sacred cover

Kenzie & Gennaro #3

Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and his partner, Angela Gennaro, seem to be out of the PI game, and so far it seems to be working them out alright. Except one day when they are kidnapped and taken to see Trevor Stone, a dying billionaire with a dying wish: his daughter, Desiree, needs to be found. She has gone missing after the death of her mother, in lieu of a severe depression. The original PI hired by Stone to find Desiree, Patrick’s role model Jay Becker, is also missing, and this seems to sway them. That, and Trevor manages to speak to the broken part within Angie that is still mourning the death of her ex-husband, Phil.

Trevor Stone is a man with plenty of power, and when Angie and Patrick start digging around, their leads take them to Grief Release, Inc. which seems to be some cover for cult-like church. Bubba Rugowski, their slightly psychopathic friend, assists in scaring the bejesus out of two members of Grief Release, Inc. especially after they make the mistake of wiping Patrick’s funds out. They also report to Trevor Stone that they may have a lead, one they got from their two very talkative friends at the hands of Bubba. Sean Price, their lead on Desiree and Jay, turns out to be Jeff Price, who had last swiped  his credit card in Florida. Stone spares no expense, and packs Angie and Patrick up and sends them down.

Hunting down any and all leads possible, the more they hear about the Stones, the more they think the people are crazy. Desiree is beautiful, but broken, and Trevor is dying, but extremely rich and used to getting his own way. Naturally, Stone sends his own men to tail Angie and Patrick, who shake them and start looking. In Florida they discover Jay Becker in prison for killing Jeff Price and completely grief stricken over Desiree’s murder. Bailing him out, Angie and Patrick start re-evaluating the case from scratch, sure that they have missed something. Stone has his own stories about his daughter and all, and Jay has totally different, grotesque stories from Desiree about Stone, and there are many little things that are just not adding up across the board, making Patrick and Angie rather fidgety. Nothing is as it seems, and some terrifying rumours about Stone and his power surfaces. Patrick and Angie are even caught in the midst of it later, though they are trying their best to keep Jay in Florida, and not to rush off to Boston to even out the cards with Trevor Stone. Being away from Boston is certainly bringing Angie out of her shell a bit more.

What is really going on? Why were Desiree and Price together so long? Why is Trevor Stone so determined to find his daughter? Are Angie and Patrick ever going to acknowledge what is between them? Will they ever realise their importance to one another? What will Stone do to Patrick and Angie? Will Jay Becker make good on his threat to kill Stone for the things Desiree claimed he did?

GRADE 7I liked this one. Lehane surely knows how to write a fast and slick novel, which is a winner. This was a pretty short read, and didn’t really have a hell of a lot of surprises popping up (they’re good, we all knew they were going to find Desiree Stone). What I really liked about this novel, and probably what makes it so good for me, is the relationship changes between Angie and Patrick. It is just something that is so totally worth the read in every sense of the word. They are more than just best friends and partners in business, they are twined together in an inexplicably beautiful way. Lehane works wonders with this neo-noir genre of his, and this Kenzie and Gennaro series is so cool. The plot for Sacred raced along, and I liked reading about Bubba and Nelson in the beginning, and how Bubba is always such a great help, though there is no denying that he is not all straight upstairs. I like that though. It works for this setting. Angie dealing with Phil’s loss is still going on here, but it never takes centre stage, but neither is it forgotten. I wish we had heard more about the church, though, as well as whatever the hell happened with Patrick’s money. Look, sure, I get it. After being visited by Bubba, I am sure the colossal mistake would have been fixed, but I would liked to have heard when it was resolved. What I did like a lot was the conclusion of this book, it came together nicely and wrapped things up. This book did not feel as distinct as the previous two, but it did sink it’s teeth into the aspects of Angie and Patrick, and I will have appreciation for that. It adds so much more dynamic to all that is going on. Anyway, another solid read, and definitely worth checking out. I think these books will certainly appeal to guys that don’t read a lot – they just strike me as those kind of books. You don’t need to be a reader to appreciate that they flow nicely and are sharp and witty.

Review: Darkness, Take My Hand – Dennis Lehane

darkness, take my hand dennis lehane cover

Kenzie & Gennaro #2

Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are back when they are called in by Eric Gault, an old teacher of Patrick’s, to help Diandra Warren. She claims that her son, Jason, is being stalked by the Irish mob after she has a girl see her about dating an abusive Kevin Hurlihy and she receives a photograph of Jason and a threat. She feels that he is in danger. It seems like a routine case, and the pair take it up immediately. Angie is still binging after her split from her abusive husband Phil, and Patrick is dealing with the guilt of not being there for Angie enough due to his newly formed relationship with a doctor named Grace. Grace has a daughter, Mae, who adores Patrick and vice versa. He seems to have the perfect relationship and is truly happy.

Nobody seems to be stalking Jared, and after meeting with the Irish mobsters through their contact, Bubba Rogowski, they start to wonder if someone is playing a prank on Diandra Warren. A girl from the neighbourhood, Kara Rider, dies shortly after speaking with Patrick, and before they even know what is going on, there is a body count piling up. The latest death seems to point to an old case from back in the day when Patrick and Angie were kids, and Alex Hardiman was imprisoned for the brutal slayings in the area at the time. Still, Patrick starts to dig, and soon he learns that some of the latest victims’ families received photos like Diandra Warren did, and he and Angie realise too late that Jason was in danger, and he is found murdered.

Torture, dismemberment, murder, mutilation. It seems the way to go for the current serial killer. Devin Amronklin and Oscar Lee of the Boston Police Department calls Patrick and Angie in, they need all the help they can get, and Patrick and Angie keep getting tied back to what is going on. Angie and Phil, too, seem to be spending too much time together, but not so much to reconcile. Angie finally signs her divorce papers, and Phil and Patrick have their first civil conversations in years. From boyhood friends to enemies, the two have a lot to discuss. Patrick, meanwhile, goes to see Alex Hardiman in prison, and soon starts to wonder if there is more going on than he is familiar with, and again the topic is broached as to Hardiman having a partner on the outside. The more digging they do, the more it seems that whatever is going on now is linked up with their own childhoods. Threats against Patrick and Angie start surfacing, and they know that they are in danger, and Patrick starts to really worry about Grace, the first woman he has ever really let into his life, and her daughter.

Who is butchering these people and why? Who was killing the people all those years ago? Does Alex Hardiman have a partner? Is he even involved with what is going on? Can Patrick protect Grace and Mae? Will they be safe? Will Angie ever deal with her divorce from Phil? Will Patrick and Phil manage to stay at this civil place, continue to work through their differences and maybe be friends again? Will Patrick and Angie stop whoever is hunting them before they, too, are dead?

GRADE 8I liked this one. I liked it a lot. It’s no secret that I am a fan of Lehane’s work, not at all, and I thought that his debut novel, A Drink Before The War, was a damn fine first novel. I really liked Patrick and Angie, so I knew I was definitely going to be back for more. Darkness, Take My Hand is so different from its predecessor that it’s scary, and not in a bad way, either, just so we are clear on that front. Initially it took me by surprise a bit that Patrick would be in a serious relationship, though I was not surprised that Angie was on a party mission after splitting from Phil. The case that they got from Diandra Warren started simply enough, and the next thing you know, the story is racing along, mob members are involved (and I do so love reading about the Mafia), an insane serial killer is on the loose, Patrick and Angie are in trouble again, and they are still dealing with the things that came up months before with Marion Socia. Obviously nothing can be easy for them. I had a good few laughs at Angie and her threats in this novel, that woman is badass. The attitudes of her and Patrick were vastly different from the last book in that there were less jokes between them and there seemed to be some distance, too. Angie was putting up a good front but not quite pulling it off, and Patrick was in a really confusing place for him (psychologically, of course) with dating Grace and loving her and her daughter. I loved Bubba making an appearance again. I know he is a total psychopath and all that, but I find him seriously entertaining. Oscar and Devin, too, though totally less psychopathic. I liked the story and I thought the plot sped along nicely and never lost you along the way (always a winner for me), and I thought it was amusing to find a Scorsese reference in here. I can certainly recommend this series wholeheartedly.

Review: A Drink Before The War – Dennis Lehane

a drink before the war dennis lehane cover

Kenzie & Gennaro #1

Private detective Patrick Kenzie meets with Sterling Mulkern, a politician, and takes a job from Mulkern and two of his cohorts to track down Jenna Angeline, a former cleaning lady of theirs. It seems like a pretty simple case, all Mulkern wants is some documents that she took with her. Patrick meets up with his partner, Angela Gennaro, and the two decide to start looking into things. After taking the job, Patrick sustains some injuries in an attack outside of the church across from his home, though he is alive. Tracking Jenna down does not prove to be too much of a hassle for the duo, but then they are very good at their jobs. Patrick and Angie and best friends, and he is slightly in love with her, though he is a known womaniser.

Along the way, kids on the street warn Patrick that he must be careful of Roland, though nobody seems to want to elaborate on that. After finding Jenna, Patrick goes with her to a safety deposit box where she has hidden the documents, which turn out to not be documents, but a photograph that will be highly damaging for one Mulkern’s cohorts. Leaving the bank, Jenna is gunned down, and Patrick barely makes it out alive. At Jenna’s funeral, it is discovered that seriously scary mobster Marion Socia is Jenna’s husband, and the terrifying Roland that Patrick has been warned about is her sixteen year old son. Things are taking on a whole different outlook.

Investigating further, Angela is dealing with her extremely abusive husband, Phil, and will not let Patrick help her at all because she loves Phil. The more they look into things, the more they are dealing with race, gender, and socio-economic issues. Marion Socia and Roland are heading up opposing gangs, and as much as Mulkern wants the “documents” that Jenna stole, it would seem that Marion wants them just as badly. Now that Jenna has passed away, a full-fledged war between father and son seems imminent, seeing as how it has been brewing for years. Instead of just backing out of the equation, Patrick and Angie get more involved than ever, wanting to get to the bottom of the photos, to figure out why a street terrorism bill that was initially pushed so hard is suddenly not getting any action, especially since the gang violence is escalating immensely. They need to find the rest of the photos that Jenna hid, and they need to do it soon, and they need to keep safe, because Socia and Roland want them both dead, and they want that bad.

Why is there such strife between Socia and Roland? Where did Jenna hide the rest of the photos? What are in the rest of the photos? Will Patrick and Angie survive this gang war? How will they deal with the violence, as well as the personal issues they are facing with love, friendship, survivial, race and class? What is going on with the street terrorism bill? How desperate is Mulkern to cover up the photos of Brian Paulson? Will Patrick ever accept that Angie and Phil are married, and that she lets him smack her around the way he does?

GRADE 7.5I have been meaning to get to this series for a while now, because I really like Lehane’s work (which I am sure you all know by now). I finally decided to get cracking on this one, and I was impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in here, and the humour and sarcasm was sharp and in abundance – definitely enjoyable. It got a little wearing for me when the whole racism issue was addressed, but that is purely because I am so over hearing about racism, having that card played for everything in my country, and it features prominently in the subjects that I have been studying for my course (though that was to be obvious, of course). The writing style flowed, and Lehane painted a fantastic picture of Boston. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Angie and Patrick, and I felt sorry for the both of them and the demons that they kept hidden in their closets. This is a fast read with some solid pacing, so you can’t go wrong there either. The plot flows, and whisks you along with it. It is a gripping story, too, and I had a lot of fun with it, though it does tackle some heavy and serious issues. This was a great introduction to the series, and another great read from Lehane. I am immensely impressed that this was his debut novel, and I definitely recommend it.