Cheese Olamon, "a six-foot-two, four-hundred-and-thirty-pound yellow-haired Scandinavian who'd somehow arrived at the misconception he was black," is telling his old grammar school friends Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro why they have to convince another mutual chum, the gun dealer Bubba Rugowski, that Cheese didn't try to have him killed. "You let Bubba know I'm clean when it comes to what happened to him. You want me alive. Okay? Without me, that girl will be gone. Gone-gone. You understand? Gone, baby, gone." Of all the chilling, completely credible scenes of sadness, destruction, and betrayal in Dennis Lehane's fourth and very possibly best book about Kenzie and Gennaro, this moment stands out because it captures in a few pages the essence of Lehane's success.
Private detectives Kenzie and Gennaro, who live in the same working-class Dorchester neighborhood of Boston where they grew up, have gone to visit drug dealer Cheese in prison because they think he's involved in the kidnapping of 4-year-old Amanda McCready. Without sentimentalizing the grotesque figure of Cheese, Lehane tells us enough about his past to make us understand why he and the two detectives might share enough trust to possibly save a child's life when all the best efforts of traditional law enforcement have failed. By putting Kenzie and Gennaro just to one side of the law (but not totally outside; they have several cop friends, a very important part of the story), Lehane adds depth and edge to traditional genre relationships. The lifelong love affair between Kenzie and Gennaro--interrupted by her marriage to his best friend--is another perfectly controlled element that grows and changes as we watch. Surrounded by dead, abused, and missing children, Kenzie mourns and rages while Gennaro longs for one of her own. So the choices made by both of them in the final pages of this absolutely gripping story have the inevitability of life and the dazzling beauty of art.
Other Kenzie/Gennaro books available in paperback: Darkness, Take My Hand, A Drink Before the War, Sacred. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Vanished, in this complex and unsettling fourth case for PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro (after Sacred, 1997) is four-year-old Amanda McCready, taken one night from her apartment in Dorchester, a working-class section of Boston, where her mother had left her alone. Kenzie and Gennaro, hired by the child's aunt and uncle, join in an unlikely alliance with Remy Broussard and Nick Raftopoulos, known as Poole, the two cops with the department's Crimes Against Children squad who are assigned to the case. In tracing the history of Amanda's neglectful mother, whose past involved her with a drug lord and his minions, the foursome quickly find themselves tangling with Boston's crime underworld and involved in what appears to be a coup among criminals. Lehane develops plenty of tension between various pairs of parties: the good guys looking for Amanda and the bad guys who may know where she is; the two PIs and the two cops; various police and federal agencies; opposing camps in the underworld; and Patrick and Angie, who are lovers as well as business partners. All is delivered with abundant violence?e.g., bloated and mutilated corpses; gangland executions; shoot-outs with weapons of prodigious firepower; descriptions of sexual abuse of small children; threats of rape and murder?that serves to make Amanda's likely fate all the more chilling. Lehane tackles corruption in many forms as he brings his complicated plot to its satisfying resolution, at the same time leaving readers to ponder moral questions about social and individual responsibility long after the last page is turned. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.