Wm. Morrow, $27.99, 402 pages, ISBN # 978-0-06-000487-3
Happy New Year to you and yours. I’m looking forward to a year filled with new and exciting thrillers, mysteries, and whodunits of every kind; from police procedurals to courtroom dramas, from hard case crime to a couple of science fictions, we’ll review them all . . . and throw in few surprises too. I’m itching to get going, so come along, the Mysterious Book Report is just getting started. Hop on . . . it’s gonna be a great fun ride.
I wanted to start the New Year with something exceptional, something truly outstanding and memorable. I found it in crime fiction; it’s the follow-up to last year’s hit, The Given Day.
The title is Live By Night by the incomparable Dennis Lehane, who is fast becoming one of my preferred authors. The book is historical fiction and begins in 1920, just as the Volstead Act, Prohibition, went into effect. The protagonist is Joe Coughlin, the third son of Thomas Coughlin; a prominent captain in the Boston Police Department with ambitions of one day being the commissioner; whose youngest son has chosen a life of crime. The action moves at lightning speed from Boston to prison to Tampa, Florida, where Joe Coughlin gets set up with the Pescatore organized crime family and becomes the controller of rum from New Orleans Louisiana, to Charleston, South Carolina and all points in between. Joe becomes an Irish prince in a Sicilian mob, wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. But an ongoing personality conflict with another gangster named Albert White, a rival for the affections of a woman named Emma Gould, keeps coming back to bite him . . . and may ultimately cost Coughlin his life.
This one has it all: sex, booze, bullets, fast cars and boats, beautiful women, unrequited love, bombast and machine gun fights . . . all set against one of America’s most colorful decades.
What’s not to love? If you only read one book this year, I’d suggest Live By Night. Yeah. It’s that good. Lehane just gets better and better. Don’t miss it.