Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Copyright: Published 2010 by William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/suspense/procedural

From Lehane’s website:

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from her blue-collar Boston neighborhood. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro risked everything to find her—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and broken home. Twelve years later, Amanda, now sixteen, is gone again.

The disappearance of little Amanda was the case that troubled Kenzie and Gennaro more than any other. Still haunted by their consciences, they must now revisit the nightmare that once tore them apart—following the trail of a lost teenager into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, and Russian gangsters, right up to the doorstep of a dangerously unstable crime boss and his demented wife. Once again Patrick and Angie will be putting everything that matters to them on the line in pursuit of the answer to the burning question: Is it possible to do the right thing and still be dead wrong.

This is a series book – must the whole series be read in order for the book to make sense? I have read Sacred, an earlier Kenzie/Gennaro book, and really enjoyed the dynamic of the two main characters, the procedural aspect, and the use of location in the plot. I have not read Gone, Baby, Gone yet although I saw the film adaptation; it precedes this book in the series, but does not need to be read in order to understand the events of this book.

About the book: Patrick and Angie are in a far different place than when I last left them as a reader, both personally and professionally. Patrick, always independent, is trying to get taken into a big PI firm, and Angie is finishing up a degree in Social Work. There’s a whole backstory that Lehane just hints at — moral dilemmas and physical danger faced, as well as financial risk following the 2008 crash. I appreciated being told just enough to explain the changes in the characters without extraneous infodumping.

There’s no good way to describe the plot (aside from the blurb above) and my reaction to the resolution without spoilers. I’ll just say that I saw part of the end and Big Reveal coming, but not all of it.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book, I feel ambivalent about Amanda as a character and I’m not sure what Lehane is trying to say through her (if anything). That having a shitty childhood justifies criminal behavior? That manipulation and murder a la Robin Hood are okay? I don’t know. I struggled to feel any sympathy at all for most of the characters. Except Patrick and Angie, of course, since Patrick narrates and Angie is his near constant companion and conscience (sort of).

This bit from near the end are my favorite lines of the book:

I’m a deeply flawed man who loves a deeply flawed woman and we gave birth to a beautiful child who, I fear sometimes, may never stop talking. Or squealing. My best friend is a borderline psychotic who has more sins on his ledger than whole street gangs and some governments. And yet . . .

. . . And yet, this life we’d built filled our car.

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

  1. WELL –

    I didn’t enjoy this book as well you did for a lot of reasons but mostly because Lehane can do better than THIS. This wasn’t as gripping as some of his earlier books and I guess yeah this could stand alone. I thought the lives of Angie and Patrick kind of mirrored a lot of Dennis Lehane’s life and also he put too much social commentary in here for my liking but then his books are full of moral dilemmas but he usually is more balanced. I will admit the book is funny with razor sharp satire and sarcasm. He’s good at that. Is this book on par with the rest of the series? Big fat no but still, it’s entertaining. I said as much in my review. So does this mean you’re a Lehane fan? if so, YAY! I’ve read all of his books with the exception of his two long winded ones – The Given Day and Live By Night.

    • This is only the second Lehane book I’ve read, so I didn’t have much to compare it to, in terms of social commentary and balance. It felt more dark or dour than Sacred, but I wondered if that was a function of life changes. But yes, I am now a Lehane fan.

  2. Great review. I agree it’s not as gritty as the earlier ones, but it was a delightful surprise to me to see this follow-up, years after GBG. I’ve read all his books, love his dark, edgy, often violent style, and I fell in love with the Patrick and Angie dynamic. You’re in for a treat if you get time to read the whole arc :). Personally, I thought GBG packed a HUGE emotional punch and the ending wrung me out, in all the very best ways. Thanks for the opportunity to chat about it 🙂

    • I really liked the film adaptation of GBG and have it in the TBR pile (electronically speaking), but I’m not sure I’m up to it right now.

      I’m always glad to chat about books 🙂

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