BOOK: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (2010)

Lehane’s novel Gone, Baby, Gone, and the film based on it, was a gripping, tightly written story about two young private detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, hired to solve the case of a kidnapped 4 year-old girl named Amanda McCready.  During the investigation, Patrick and Angie discovered the girl’s mother, Helene, was just about the most unfit parent imaginable, and the novel ends in a wrenching finale in which Patrick has to decide whether to let the girl stay with her (much kinder) kidnappers, or go back to her (horrible, destructive) mother.  He chooses the latter, feeling it’s the most “right” thing, and this decision almost ends up costing him his relationship with Angie, who vehemently disagreed with the choice.

Twelve years later, Angie and Patrick are married with a toddler when Patrick gets a call from Amanda’s aunt Beatrice again.  Amanda, now 16, has disappeared again, and Patrick, feeling responsible for so dramatically changing the course of her life over a decade ago, agrees to take the case.  Angie, now a stay-home mother, eagerly joins in, desperate for something interesting to do, and the two quickly learn Amanda has actually turned out fairly well — she’s a straight-A student headed for college, despite her rotten mother, but she’s also a precociously “tough” girl.  A girl who takes adult-sized risks and is loaded with courage.  The kind of girl who goes to the mat for something she thinks is right, regardless of the consequences to herself.

That’s how she ends up entangled with the Molodavian mob, trying to do the right thing, and once Patrick and Angie discover what’s going on, the story runs a fairly familiar course — they find and follow a bunch of clues, they locate Amanda, they almost get killed, Bubba is adorable, etc. etc.

What makes this novel entertaining, despite its predictable path, are the delightful, engaging characters (you can tell from the writing how much Lehane loves Patrick and Angie, for one thing) and the powerful descriptive writing, which is loaded with Patrick’s irony and zingers yet still manages to create a world, and a mystery, that seem completely plausible.

The end of this installment in the Kenzie/Gennaro series suggests the end of the series itself, though one never knows.  Fans of Lehane’s other books (in the series or not) will definitely want to pick this one up, and I think it would also be an entertaining choice for those whose only experience with Lehane is through the films based on his work (like Gone, Baby, Gone or Shutter Island (in the case of the latter, by the way, the book was WAY better than the movie)).  If you walked out of GBG wondering what was going to happen to Amanda, in other words, you’ll find the answer here.  I think you’ll be pleased.


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2 Responses to “BOOK: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (2010)”

  1. RogerBW Says:

    Never read or watched any Lehane. But I enjoyed your recommendation of Parker…

  2. megwood Says:

    I haven’t read a TON of Lehane, but did enjoy Shutter Island and a couple of the other Kenzie/Gennaro novels. Having liked this one too, I’ll probably go back now and read the others in that series. Witty is always good.

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