Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading Rainbow: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

After an eleven-year hiatus, our old friends Patrick Kenzie and Angie Kenzie (née Gennaro) are back, having last been seen patching things up in Dennis Lehane's 1999 novel Prayers for Rain. While the fifth novel in the series was integral in that it saw the two patch things up, Moonlight Mile--taking its name from what might be my favorite Stones tune--ties in much more to the best-known book in the series, Gone, Baby, Gone [commas dropped in the Affleck-directed film adaptation], as it follows up with Amanda McCready twelve years after she was returned to her woefully neglectful mother, Helene.

Unlike the rest of the novels in the series, Gone, Baby, Gone had plenty of room for a proper sequel, and given the opportunity to explore the ramifications of Patrick's choice at the end of that novel, the ground for a thematically interesting book is fertile. Thankfully (and predictably), Lehane does not disappoint, having the consequences of Patrick's actions a dozen years prior wreak havoc throughout the book.

What transpires is a mesmerizing exploration into the far-reaching consequences of a single act, one made in a no-win situation, and it is delivered by one of the most enthralling voices out there. Lehane's books are ones that get their claws in you and don't let you go until you've devoured them and are left still wanting more. Moonlight Mile is another in a long line of dark page-turners, that despite their best-seller status and focus on crime never quite feel low or pulpy. That isn't to say that pulp is bad, but somehow Lehane seems to transcend the mystery/crime genre, existing in a world all his own.

Or perhaps I'm trying to validate a genre that I really don't think needs validation, as I'd much rather read Lehane or Chandler or Cain or Jim Thompson than James Joyce.

Regardless, Moonlight Mile is a worthy [apparent] conclusion to the saga that is Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro's arc, the only book series I have read from front-to-back in at least a decade, and probably the only one I'd recommend to everyone out there.

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