Reviews for Live By Night
Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
*Starred Review* Lehane's latest historical thriller, following The Given Day (2008), continues the author's propulsive narrative train ride across twentieth-century American history. This time the train stops during Prohibition, and the individual focus is on Joe Coughlin, a Boston cop's son by birth but a gangster by choice, rejecting his father's platitudes about crime not paying and choosing, instead, to live by night, in a "world without nets--none to catch you and none to envelop you." Joe begins in Boston, and after a stint in prison, it's off to Tampa, where he quickly becomes the crime boss of Ybor City, rum-running capital of Florida. Joe, like Vito Corleone, is a thoughtful gangster, a family man who would prefer to do business without violence but who draws violence to him like a magnet. Despite evoking comparisons both to The Godfather and to the TV series Boardwalk Empire, Lehane's novel carves its own unique place in the Prohibition landscape, partially because crime runs at a more languid if no less lethal pace in Ybor City than it does in the North. And, somehow, when the staccato rhythm of gunfire overwhelms the tranquil tempo of a slowly turning ceiling fan, the jolt to our system is stronger, as is the realization that Joe's worlds of night and day are held together by the thinnest of fibers. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Note to that big IT department in the sky: add bandwidth, launch satellites, do whatever you need to do to prepare for the digital promotion campaign that will accompany the launch of Dennis Lehane's new novel. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2012 October
The bad boys of the Roaring '20s
"Some years later, in a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin’s feet were placed in a tub of cement.” As an opening line guaranteed to pick you up by the scruff of the neck and not let go, it doesn’t get much better than that. Live by Night is told in flashbacks, coming around full circle to that gripping beginning, which is, in its way, the end.
Ardent Dennis Lehane-ophiles will recognize the Coughlin family name from 2008’s The Given Day, the sweeping early 20th-century novel in which Aiden (Danny) Coughlin, Joe’s Boston cop father, played a pivotal role. Fast-forward 10 years or so to the heady time of Prohibition, and the younger Coughlin offers up a fine example of the apple having fallen far from the tree. While Coughlin pÃ¨re pursued his vision of law and order, Coughlin fils embarked early on a life of crime. He should have known better than to rob well-connected speakeasy owner Albert White, and he really should have known better than to make a play for White’s girl, but then there would have been no cement overshoes and probably no story as well. And make no mistake, there is a fine story here, more than the equal of its predecessor—one that begs for (and, according to reports, will receive) a third installment. Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
The acclaimed mystery writer again tries his hand at historical fiction, combining period detail from the Prohibition era with the depth of character and twists of plot that have won him such a devoted readership. Though this novel serves as a sequel to The Given Day (2008), it can be read independently of Lehane's previous historical novel and is closer in its page-turning narrative momentum to his more contemporary thrillers such as Mystic River (2001). Its protagonist is Joe Coughlin, the morally conflicted youngest son of a corrupt Boston police official (oldest brother Danny was protagonist of the previous novel and makes a cameo appearance here). One of the more compelling characters ever created by Lehane, Joe is a bright young man raised in an economically privileged Irish household who turned to crime as a teenager because "it was fun and he was good at it." He's the product of a loveless marriage, for whom "the hole at the center of his house had been a hole at the center of his parents and one day the hole had found the center of Joe." Among the ways he tries to fill that hole is through love and loyalty, both of which put him at odds with the prevailing ethos of the gang bosses among whom he finds himself caught in the crossfire. He ultimately builds a bootlegging empire in Tampa, backed by a vicious gang lord whose rival had tried to kill Joe, and he falls in love with a Cuban woman whose penchant for social justice receives a boost from his illegal profits. ("Good deeds, since the dawn of time, had often followed bad money," writes Lehane.) Neither as epic in scope nor as literarily ambitious as its predecessor, the novel builds to a powerful series of climaxes, following betrayal upon betrayal, which will satisfy Lehane's fans and deserves to extend his readership as well. Power, lust and moral ambiguity combine for an all-American explosion of fictional fireworks. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 May #2
A New York Times best-selling author with multiple awards to his name, Lehane sets his latest in Roaring Twenties Boston, Florida, and Cuba; it's no surprise that the promotion brings up HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Youngest son of an upright Boston police sergeant, Joe Coughlin opts for the dark side, working his way to the top of organized crime but also setting himself up, inevitably, for betrayal and revenge. With a one-day laydown on October 2 and a 400,000-copy first printing. [Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #2
Lehane (Mystic River; Shutter Island) is known for gritty, occasionally gruesome mystery novels, frequently set in the working-class Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, where he grew up. Like his The Given Day, this new book represents something of a departure for Lehane. Both are historical novels, following the history of the Coughlin family in Boston between the two world wars. While the first novel offered a complex narrative thread and examined the lives of multiple characters, Lehane focuses here on Joe Coughlin's rising career as a gangster and rum runner. Joe is the younger brother of Danny Coughlin, the protagonist of The Given Day, who appears only briefly here, and Joe's exploits effectively illustrate how Prohibition boosted the fortunes of gangsters like Danny. VERDICT Lehane continues to evoke beautifully the world of Boston in the 1920s. The narrative falters and loses focus somewhat in the novel's second half when the setting shifts to Florida and Cuba. The novel also suffers from its almost exclusive focus on a single character. While not on the level of its predecessor, it still provides sufficient action to entertain most fans of historical fiction and mystery. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/12.]--Douglas Southard, Boston (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #1
Bestseller Lehane (The Given Day) chronicles the Prohibition-era rise of Joe Coughlin, an Irish-American gangster, in this masterful crime epic. While most hard-working stiffs are earning their wages by day in 1926 Boston, 19-year-old Joe and his friends live by night, catering to the demand for prostitution, narcotics, and bootleg alcohol. When Joe falls for a competing mobster's gun moll, he sets in motion a chain of events that land him in prison, with the girl missing and presumed dead. In the joint, Joe meets aging Mafia don Thomaso "Maso" Pescatore, who becomes his mentor. On Joe's release, Maso sets Joe up in Tampa, Fla., as his point man. Years pass, and Joe creates a huge empire in the illegal rum trade. He marries Graciela Corrales, a fiery Cuban revolutionary, and eventually builds a life for himself in Batista's Cuba, soothing his conscience by doing good works with his dirty money. This idyllic existence can't last forever, though, especially in the night, with its shifting alliances and fated clashes. Lehane has created a mature, quintessentially American story that will appeal to readers of literary and crime fiction alike. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC