on July 1, 2004
Of the three Kenzie/Gennaro novels I have read, this was the most entertaining, if one can describe kidnapping of a child and abuse of kidnapped children by some of the most twisted people in our society "entertaining." Amanda McCready, a four year old, has been kidnapped and her aunt and uncle have sought out the dynamic duo to see if she can be found. They work out a tenuous and sometimes tense relationship with the detectives who are in charge of the investigation, yet little or no progress in finding the little girl occurs. At the half way point in the book, Patrick summarizes what they have accomplished (or not). "This was one of the most infuriating cases I'd ever worked. Absolutely nothing made sense. A four year old girl disappears. Investigation leads us to believe that the child was kidnapped by drug dealers who'd been ripped off by the mother. A ransom demand for the stolen money arrives from a woman who seems to work for the drug dealers. The ransom drop is an ambush. The drug dealers are killed. One of the drug dealers may or may not be an undercover operative for the federal government. The missing girl remains missing or at the bottom of a quarry."
As it turns out, the answers are hiding in plain sight, yet it takes time, lives and luck to eventually come up with them.
This is no Mystic River (few are) but, it is a good story, well told.
on May 5, 2003
Dennis Lehane, Gone, Baby, Gone (Morrow, 1998)
Lehane clocks in with the fourth novel in the Kenzie and Gennaro series with his most intricate plot and satisfying novel so far. In this one, Kenzie and Gennaro are bullied into taking the case of a missing four-year-old by the girl's aunt. The mother seems not to care much about her child's whereabouts when she's not in front of the TV cameras, preferring to watch television and drink beer with her best friend and next door neighbor. What's already an atypical missing persons case gets weirder and weirder as Kenzie and Gennaro, working with a couple of Boston cops named Poole and Broussard, peel off layer after layer that links the case to organized crime, drug dealing, a two-hundred-thousand dollar heist, and imprisoned renegade mob boss Cheese Olamon, a schoolyard acquaintance of Kenzie's.
While the moralizing of A Drink Before the War is back (though far more subdued here) and Lehane seems to buy into the urban myth of the ever-present Child Molester on Every Corner, such concerns for the intent of the author tend to fall by the wayside when a mystery is so intricately plotted. Red herrings fly thick and fast, the case twists and turns with startling frequency, no one is in any way happy, and ghosts of old cases the two have worked return to haunt them with regularity as they bump heads over and over again with higher-ups in the Boston and state police departments. It is the skill with which the mystery is plotted, and Lehane's affable writing style, that keeps this book from falling into the one-trick-pony trap of a Jonathan Kellerman or an Andrew Vachss. Lehane finally made a solid name for himself with the success of Mystic River two years ago; here's to hoping fans of that novel will come back and discover the Kenzie and Gennaro novels, some of the best neo-noir writing there is to be had today. ****
on March 19, 2000
Gone, Baby, Gone is everything we've come to expect from Lehane, all turned up a notch. He takes on the terrifying subject of child abduction and refuses to flinch in his merciless exploration of all the gruesome implications and possibilities. Kenzie and Gennaro return in fine form, and Lehane takes us further into their complex individual psyches as well as their strangely woven relationship. Bubba returns and the story is populated with a compelling and mysterious supporting cast. Lehane flexes a little as a writer with mixed results. This is a more intricate plot than in the past and he weaves the various threads well but many of the descriptions are overdone and unnecessary. Too often I lost Kenzie's voice and became conscious of Lehane's. Sometimes, Lehane is his own worst enemy, the action is so engrossing I lose my patience when he steps away from it. Through the four novels I have become deeply involved in the lives of Kenzie and Gennaro, the time between books is like losing touch with close friends. Gone, Baby, Gone is easily the darkest of the series and simultaneously an excruciating and engrossing read. It may be detective fiction but it is anything but light reading. If you have not yet discovered Lehane you live in a poorer world. Start at the beginning and enjoy.
on September 6, 2001
This book was, to me, really two stories in one. One was about Samuel Pietro and the people who kidnapped him and the other was the main story of Amanda McCready and the people who kidnapped her. There are many twist and turns. I thought I had it all figured out, them wham, we went off in another direction. I was really liking Poole and Broussard at first, then they ending up being pond scum. Amanda is kidnapped, a ransom demanding stolen money is received. Drug dealers are killed, the stolen money is stolen again, one of the drug dealers may have been an undercover agent, the girl is still missing. I did not like the ending at all. My heart went out to the little girl, which was one ending, my heart went out to Angela which was the other ending. All in all another good mystery about Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. This is the fourth book, I would suggest reading them in order. But, I would suggest reading them. They have all been prety good.
on October 23, 2002
Lehane follows up the boring "Sacred" with a thrilling, haunting novel about child abductions and the fine line between right and wrong.
This novel was just as good as Darkness, take my hand. It had plenty of twists and turns and violence. But I was frustrated because after reading the synopsis on the jacket of the hardcover, and the 3-page prologue about someone in Port Mesa, Texas, I guessed the plot.
I usually don't try and guess plots, but this one just came to me. Only so many things can happen to kids when they are kidnapped. Lehane telegraphs his plot in an obvious manner. Skip the first three pages and you'll probably not guess the plot. Still, I enjoyed this novel. Lehane is a great writer and obviously invests a lot of effort into his entertaining novels.
Prayers for Rain is next on my list.
on February 26, 2000
Lehane is one of those rare writers whose writing is neither consistently outstanding nor consistently middling -- there are long patches of cardboard characterization, comic book action, and too-familiar devices (does *every* thriller these days have to have a huge, sociopathic criminal sidekick?), but there are also moments of grace, beauty and insight to rival the best in the genre. In GONE, BABY, GONE, the good and the bad come in roughly equal measure until the very end, where Lehane makes a plotting decision that smacks you in the gut like a brick and stays with you long after you finish the book. Wish it had been better elsewhere, but the ending alone makes this one a keeper.
on July 20, 2000
This is the first Lehane book I had ever read, and I enjoyed it so much, I immediately read every book in the series, the ultimate compliment to the author.
The characters are fresh and interesting. The plot was involving, and the author gives the reader a real feel for the atmosphere of Boston [where I have never been.]
In this book, there is no clear line between who the bad guys are, and who the good guys are; there's a great deal of moral ambiguity, something missing in most books in the "detective" genre.
The protagonists are wonderfully developed and realistic. I highly recommed Lehane, and particular this book, which is his best to date.
on March 5, 2000
I started reading Lehane's books last year (1999) and I immediately got attached to Angie, Patrick and Bubba. Gone, Baby Gone was another page turner with so many twists, it is impossible to figure out what is going on until Lehane wants you to. Although I found the subject matter dark (missing and exploited kids) I couldn't put it down. I felt like the characters really got a chance to be more human and you got to know them a little better. I love Bubba. I can't believe someone that is basically a criminal and crazy is a likable character, but he is. I would suggest Lehane's series to anyone.
on December 3, 1999
This author is pretty good for 2nd tier (1st tier being Waumbaugh, Hiaasen, Ellroy, Mosely, etc.). Plotting is great and unpredictable, and reading makes a "good ride". Characters, however, lack something - but, hey, Agatha Christie never had any good characters, either, but could you guess her plots?
Actually, I'm well beyond Agatha Christie, but I still like good characters. I also like a good plot. Unfortunately, you can't seem to get both at once except with a few authors.
This guy is worth reading for plotting. Hopefully, his character development will become better.
on March 13, 2001
I was only disappointed that Patrick was willing to do any number of illegal things but was unwilling to allow the child to stay with a family who loved her. I thought Angela was right in her decision to leave but I also thought that a different ending would have been better for the child. However, this being fiction I guess in the long run it doesn't really matter. I would just like to know why arms dealing is okay to the author but allowing a heroin addict's child to stay with her is okay.