Title: Live By Night (Goodreads)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Published: William Morrow, 2012
My Copy: Advanced Review Copy
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Kindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
While Joe Coughlin is the son of a Boston Police Captain, he has long turned his back of being a moral citizen. Joe has graduated into petty crimes to high paying robberies. But when he robs a speakeasy of a Boston mobster things change for him. When the mobster kills Joe’s love, Emma, he becomes obsessed with seeking revenge. Joe works up the ladder of organised crime till he is in the right position to take his revenge. But taking on a rival family is never so simple. This is the basis of Dennis Lehane’s latest crime novel Live by Night.
Most people know I’m a huge fan of pulpish and organised crime novels so I was really interested in checking out this novel. My first attempt of Dennis Lehane with Mystic River didn’t go too well but I was excited to give him another go, simply because the premise of this book sounded really good and the idea of reading a crime novel set in the prohibition era really enthused me. This book started out strong. I really liked Emma the love interestand was very sad to see her get killed off; I was ready to seek revenge too. The revenge aspect and the becoming a powerful mobster were really good but then you get half way through the book and it falls flat. Almost like Dennis Lehane had changed his mind of what type of book this is and switches genre. Without giving too much away I was disappointed with the change in style and although there are some great crime elements later on it just felt a bit odd.
I loved the characters in this book and this was my biggest worry because with Mystic River I felt they were a bit flat and one dimensional. I think it was interesting to hear that Lehane wrote another book called The Given Day which is based around the same family but focuses on a different character; I believe its Joe Coughlin’s brother. Even if they seem to be connected, Live by Night does a great job of developing the characters without having to read the other book.
I’m a little disappointed that this book had so much potential but the last part of the book fell short. Personally I think this book could have ended a lot earlier or cut out the parts that weren’t working. Lehane was trying to develop the characters a bit more in the sections that weren’t working but in my opinion they didn’t help the novel. There are some great elements in this book and overall it was an enjoyable crime novel. I think I will have to check out The Given Day and some more Dennis Lehane novels based on my experience with this one.