on 22 March 2002
Gennaro and Kenzie are yet again on a multi-faceted trail involving some of the most disturbing sides of humanity. This time we are on the trail of a missing child, lost drug money; all disappearing in to thin air. Although there are references to other books - the forward pace of the storyline is maintained throughout. I love Bubba (wouldn't want to be on his wrong side though!) and Lehane manages to weave deep emotions throughout; in fact, this one made me cry. If you've never read Lehane before, buy this one, read it, and they buy the rest. You won't regret it.
Hope he doesn't take too long writing the next one.
I made the mistake of starting to read this book before I had realised that it's part of a series featuring the two central characters Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, two private detectives who work together. I'd highly recommend starting with A Drink Before The War first if you're new to the series like I was, as Lehane has them discuss elements of the previous novels, and there are a few spoilers revealed along the way in 'Gone Baby, Gone' that I'd have preferred not to have known - I intend to read the rest of them in order, as I've enjoyed this instalment very much.
The characters that populate the Boston neighbourhood that forms the backdrop of the book are largely written - at first sight they seem to be almost caricatures - but as the plot opens up, it becomes apparent that many of them have been continually present since the first novel, and their depiction turns out to be a lot more detailed than I had realised. It's nice to be familiar with regular characters in books, to see how they develop as new books come out.
Lehane was on the writing team for the third series of The Wire, and it shows - there are twists and turns to the plot which will keep you guessing right to the end, and fool you into thinking that you've worked it all out when in fact you weren't even in the right ball-park. I started off this story very conscious of the fact that all detective novels have the same basic outline, more or less: the detectives get involved with a crime that they have to solve, there's usually a suspect who turns out not to have done it, they have to confront various personal demons along the way, and so on and so forth, blah blah blah. Not here though, thankfully.
The plot involves abducted children, and it's sensitively handled - I'm really uncomfortable reading scenes of child abuse, but thankfully the only descriptions are of bodies here, rather than in-the-moment depictions. I really don't like it when writers get too graphic about stuff like that.
Lehane has a deft ear for dialogue, and a butcher's eye for cutting the fat from the meat. There's little of the Elmore Leonard-style humour present, but it doesn't detract. There's an intelligent overall perspective at work in this book which tries to examine how some crimes are motivated by good intentions, how cops who work in child protection cope with the ugliness of the world they see.
Very enjoyable - it kept me coming back for more.
As with all of Lehane's novels that I've read so far, I raced through this at lightning speed. His writing is as addictive as any I've ever come across. It's impassioned, thoughtful, violent, sassy... it's compelling stuff. And I'm writing this even though I knew - generally - what was going to happen since I had already seen Ben Affleck's flawed, but gripping movie of the book. I thought the movie was one of the most powerful I'd seen in a long time despite its ultimate unbelievability. I think, rather than the direction, it was Casey Affleck's spellbinding performance that really made it look good. And it is his vivid bringing- to-life of the character of Kenzie that, above all else, is truly worthy of the book. In many ways, the movie is inferior. Had it stuck closer to the book, it may have been close to a masterpiece. In the book, as in all of this series so far, Angie is a vibrant presence. Unfortunately, the actress playing her in the film is a bit of a wet fish. Also, the ultimate revelations surrounding the mystery of Amanda McCready's disappearance are a lot more credible in the book. Less ham-fisted.
I have yet to read Prayers For Rain, Mystic River and Coronado. But so far, I'd say Gone Baby Gone is Lehane's finest achievement. It plucks the heartstrings in a profound way. It will entertain the hell out of you. Amidst the very sombre subject matter, it will have you laughing out loud. Lehane has found a great formula and a great voice. His tales are not quite as documentary-like as he may wish us to believe. In their own way, they are fantastical and some distance removed from real life. But there is great artistry involved in what he does and the moral questions he poses are not easily resolved. This is great pop-literature for grown-ups.
Investigating the kidnapping of four-year-old Amanda McCready, daughter of a neglectful single mother/druggie/barfly in Dorchester, Massachusetts, private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro get caught up in one of their most challenging cases. The fourth in the Kenzie/Gennaro series by Lehane, this case is not "just" a kidnapping on their home turf. The pair also investigates Cheese Olamon, a Scandinavian giant they knew when they were growing up--now a drug dealer with serious underworld connections, a convict and enforcer. Amanda's mother has been involved with Olamon and may have lucked into a $200,000 payoff meant for him, within moments of Cheese's arrest and incarceration. No one knows what happened to the money or whether it is related to the kidnapping of Amanda.
Investigators Kenzie and Gennaro, who live together, become emotionally involved in this wrenching case, tracking down clues that suggest that Amanda is dead. They are also forced to deal with renegade members of the Boston Police, who do their own enforcing, which is faster and easier than dealing with the justice system. Some of these renegades have their own secrets to hide, and Kenzie and Gennaro soon prove to be dangerous to them. Meetings in the woods at night, shootouts, executions, crosses and double-crosses leave Kenzie and Gennaro no closer to finding Amanda, and time is running out.
Always adept at creating characters, Lehane creates new conflicts here between Kenzie and Gennaro as they deal with their discoveries and try to agree on their actions. Do they follow the book, or do they do what is "just"? Can they even agree on what justice is? Throughout the novel, their past relationships with people from Dorchester whom they have known all their lives provide additional complications, at the same time that they create great reader identification as the two private investigators operate in their home neighborhood. As characters, one by one, meet their deaths, the tensions and sense of forboding rise, until Kenzie and Gennaro are close to the breaking point, both personally and as a couple.
Combining snappy and realistic dialogue with outstanding description, Lehane shows Kenzie and Gennaro dealing with people who live on the fringes, those who do whatever it takes to get by and never second guess their choices. Often as violent as the criminals and police with whom they are engaged, Kenzie and Gennaro face crises here which test their relationship, endanger their lives, and force them to decide what is right--one of their best cases.
on 28 September 2001
I cried when I read parts of this. I think a key part of Lehane's writing abilities are how the characters are human - flawed and realistic. Even the good guys have off days or less than noble thoughts - and the bad guys occasionally surpise you with deeds that you'd expect too noble for them. And as for Bubba - he's in a class of his own. Read all of these books - he deserves to be a star in the UK.
on 21 September 1999
While reading this book on holiday, I found it impossible to put down. Lehane guides you through the twists and turns of Bostons underworld impeccably. The characters shone through with wit and charm, with the rollercoaster of a plot keeping on the edge of your seat until the final gut-wrenching twist at the end. Cant wait until Lehanes next novel.
on 21 May 2012
Yeah. Wow. This book was something else. Where to begin?
I've said it before and I will do so again: Lehane has a talent for writing sick and twisted characters. Sick and twisted characters who also, usually, have a touch of humanity in them, however small that might be. This book was full of them, as you would expect in a thriller about missing kids. And it wasn't always clear who the heroes in this novel were, either.
The plot was well executed for the most part. It was a fairly chunky book and it did feel bogged down in a few places by the scale and complexity of the story. Most of these occur in the first third of the book and it was worth persevering past these parts because the last half of the novel was where all the complex, and seemingly unrelated, story elements began to finally fall into place. It was gripping, hard to put down and yet hard to read too.
Gone, Baby, Gone was a book that made me feel sick at the injustice of the world, at how the right thing to do isn't always the best thing to do, and yet it was also awesome in all its violent and bittersweet glory. Highly recommended.
on 7 January 2008
When they are asked to take the case of a missing four-year-old girl, private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angelo Gennaro are reluctant to take it, but because it's a child they pass on their better judgment and dive into the investigation.
Before long they discover that everyone seems to have a secret and no one's talking, still they learn that it's a case all about money, what else, and they arrange a trade, however even though the rendezvous is well guarded, someone starts shooting and by the time it's all over Kenzie and Gennaro are luck to be alive.
As always with a novel by Dennis Lehane, it's hard to figure out just who to root for. This chapter's good guy seems like that chapter's bad guy. Mr. Lehane takes us for a walk down to the dark side of human nature, painting people as real as the guy down at the local drug store, your mother-in-law, your husband. He takes off a character's wrapping, tells it like it is, makes you believe.
Review submitted by Captain Katie Osborne
on 17 November 2010
Lehane Moves Up a Gear
You can tell Dennis Lehane wanted to move on from his genre origins and stock characters. This is too thick and rich a gumbo.
However great Lehane is, and this is a great book in many ways, Ben Affleck's screenplay is that much tighter. The whole Kenzie and Gennaro thing gets in the way of this kidnapping tale, and there are too many characters developed poorly in this one to hit the heights of Mystic River. It almost seems Lehane is planning his escape to higher literary playing fields.
For those coming to Lehane the first time, it's a bit of a flawed masterpiece. There is too much back story with the leads to follow cleanly, and that is compounded by the incredibly complex narrative. But at its heart, this is a layered, moving tale of Boston low life scum - not just criminals but cops too. It packs a punch, and it is beautifully concealed.
No matter its flaws, read this book, then see the Affleck movie. It'll kill you.
on 15 June 2006
Lehane's story about how private investigators Kenzie & Gennaro are drawn into the search for a missing child, the neglected Amanda McCready, is more than just a stonking good mystery/detective novel.
It's also a thought-provoking read, dealing with the sometimes difficult subject of child neglect and abuse, and the efforts of a few souls to offer a few lucky children a better life. There is no happy ending in this story, in fact the closing pages are heart wrenching in their "unfairness".
Like other Lehane novels I've read, the plot is well constructed and the story well paced. There's the usual sprinkling of humour to lighten the tone, too. All in all a good read. So much so that my (French) husband devoured this book whilst on holiday. I've never seen him reading so much!
You won't be disappointed by this book. If you are already familiar with Lehane then you know what to expect, and if you're not this book is as good as any to start with.