In spite of having seen Gone, Baby, Gone at least three times, it was only recently (after the holidays) that I somehow became aware that it was the 4th in a series of six crime thrillers by Dennis Lehane. I swear, I am not living under a rock, but 1. how I got this far without knowing this amazing series exists, and 2. how I could not have learned that this, in my Top 100 favorite films of all time, was first a BOOK, and a GREAT one, is beyond me. I mean, I watch the credits! How did I miss this for so long?! Common sense ain’t all that common. Sounds like something Patrick Kenzie might say.
Dennis Lehane isn’t just FROM
Boston, everything he writes has the Charles River flowing in its veins. These characters are so alive, I might run into them the next time we’re lost, on foot, in Dorchester (yeah, it happened, and it’s probably a good thing I hadn’t read this). It’s refreshing to “hear” New England, but more specifically , “sound” right (so many authors and actors miss the mark). Lehane writes both the accent and the regional idiom as only a native could. Boston
|"Dorchester", courtesy Adam Pieniazek,|
Flickr Creative Commons
Violent in the extreme, gritty in every way, the tale wouldn’t be the same without. Shocking sadism: one villain tortures his victims by nailing their hands & feet to the floor before torturing them to death; another “silences” his victim by cutting out his tongue AND chopping off both his hands (I had nightmares about that one). Is this “ripped from the headlines,” or is this just the creepy imagination of Lehane? Either is possible, or maybe a bit of both.
In spite of all the sadness, loss, danger, anger, and fear, Lehane is ever wry and pithy. It’s a gallows humor, probably the remnants of the survival technique of working-class
. Stay cool, laugh it off, don’t ruffle your feathers, don’t show your hand. Little wisecracks abound. In Moonlight Mile, Kenzie is tailing “bad guys” in a bright yellow Hummer he borrowed from another “bad guy” (read the book, it’ll make more sense), and he chucks this one out: “trying to look inconspicuous in a yellow Hummer [on Route 1] is like trying to look inconspicuous walking naked into a church.” I wish I had kept a list of all these quirky remarks, but frankly, I was so swept into the books that I was simply along for the ride; they become part of the fabric of this world. Boston
For the record, if you want a vivid depiction of just how much technology has changed, and in doing so, changed society, in the 20-or-so adult years of Gen-Xers, read this series.
(courtesy "maxf", Flickr Creative Commons)
I heard that Lehane got pretty burned out from this series (he took a break by writing Mystic River, Shutter Island, and the HBO series The Wire – what a cheery fellow). It must have been awful for those Kenzie & Gennaro fans to wait more than 10 years between Books 5 and 6. I read the whole series like a 2,000 page novel, barely coming up for a breath between closing one book and opening the next (thanks to the library and to Gordon & Rich for keeping me well-supplied for my next fix!). Maybe being slow on the uptake has its benefits.
The Kenzie & Gennaro series includes:
A Drink Before the War (1994)
Darkness, Take My Hand (1996)
Gone, Baby, Gone (1998)
Prayers for Rain (1999)
Moonlight Mile (2010)