Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors. His books are the kind that you don’t forget for a long time after you’ve finished the book. The characters and the stories stick with you. The people he creates aren’t black and white, but shades of gray, just the way people are in real life.
World Gone By is the third in a series. Normally I wouldn’t review a book that is part of a series. I believe, however, that World Gone By is a book that can stand alone. While you will understand the characters a bit more if you have read the first two in the series – The Given Day and Live By Night – this book will draw you in even if you don’t want to read the first two.
The protagonist, Joe Coughlin, is a complex character. He was born and reared in Boston (most of Lehane’s books take place in Boston as that is where he was born and still lives), the son of an abusive father and a neglectful mother. Through a series of actions that take place throughout the series, Coughlin gets caught up in a world of crime – he’s a gangster in Ybor City, Florida, and Cuba – but is now mostly out of the business. He is by no means to be confused with the caricature of the “gangster with a heart of gold.” Still, he has his own set of morals, and while they resemble our morals in no way whatsoever, they make a degree of sense. The reader can’t help but like Joe even if they don’t like the world in which he is involved.
World Gone By is not a book that would appeal to everyone. It is graphically violent. I think it’s probably nearly impossible to write a believable book about the mob without violence. The plot plays out about the only way it can, and the ending came as no surprise.
Lehane’s writing, my friends, is why anyone should read this book. And if books about the mob don’t appeal to you, read other books by this author. He writes a marvelous detective series featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Don’t get me wrong. These are not lighthearted mysteries. But Lehane’s writing is incredible.
Several of his books have been made into movies – Mystic River (one of my favorites), Shutter Island, and The Drop come to mind.
I suggest you give Lehane’s books a try.
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