on November 8, 2003
This is a very well rounded novel. Dennis Lehane has gained alot of steam with each new book and I think this is my favorite of the Kenzie/Gennaro series. I wasn't quite as in love with it as Mystic River, mostly because of the extreme violence and gore it contains but the writing is very solid. The characters are very well fleshed out and real and I liked the bad guys as much as the good guys...and often it was hard to tell which was which! The key here is the moral dilemma this story unfolds and it's brilliant! The ending was perfect and while emotionally I'm in the same camp with Angie I totally understand Patrick's decision. Maybe the most terrifying thing about this book is the recognition of the horror of child abuse and neglect in our culture. It's not too difficult to imagine taking the law into your own hands after witnessing the moral deprivation described in this book regarding children...and thus the dilemma! It's really a great, thoughtful and disturbing read!
on January 7, 2003
In the last 30 day I've read all five of Lehane' Kinzie/Gennaro books, finishing Prayers for Rain last night. Lehane has created a terrific franchise in the mystery/thriller arena with his realistic and (more importantly) entertaining pair of detectives. You like these people he's created and believe their motives for what they choose to do as they trek through the plot. Clearly I've found a lot of compelling entertainment in these stories.
The first book in the series, A Drink Before the War, really [drew] me in, being in the same vein as the Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais which I also recommend. Both series are consistently well-written, a clear step (or two) above pop/trash/beach fiction, funny, intelligent stories where the plot make sense, and the characters seem frighteningly real. It turned out that the first Kinzie/Gennaro yarn was the lightest. Each one after has ratcheted up the twists and turns, but kept the personality of the characters growing and building. The stories definitely got blacker and bleaker in the depraved actions of the bad guys. By Prayers for Rain, the villain is a hardcore-fulltime psychopath, and Patrick and Angie are a-little-further-than-borderline vigilantes.
After racing through five of the books in so short a period, I am struck with a sense of vulnerability. If some bad dude makes it their career to mess with you, and if they have no normal limits to their behavior, you're just [out of luck]. How can a normal, follow the rules type of citizen even comprehend the introduction of aggression and violence into their regular lives? Unless you have friends to help you out like Kenzie and Gennaro you might as well move out of the country and hope you're never found. Read these, you'll like them.
on October 13, 2001
Reading about the scum of humanity that Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro come up against is like watching a David Fincher movie. It's all grit staring you right in the face with unflinching honesty.The fourth book in the detective series has the duo searching for a missing child. In true Lehane fashion, there are more twists than a crazy straw, and the plot gets deeper and deeper and more horrifying as the truth comes out. Luckily there's the character of Bubba to add some needed comic relief to the story. A story that's hard to put down, and harder to shake when you finish it.
When PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are asked by the McCreadys to find their four-year-old niece, Patrick or Angie turn them down. After all, the police are on the case and these seasoned PIs know the emotional price to pay if things turn out badly. But Beatrice McCready's refusal to accept no and other circumstances gradually cause a change of heart. The more questions Patrick and Angie ask, though, the more disturbing the situation, and the more dangerous the truth.
What starts as a straightforward plot in Gone Baby Gone, becomes an increasingly complicated story with every twist and turn. In part, this is a grim portrayal of life for some children in the real world, and if it wasn't for Dennis Lehane's elegant writing it'd be a hard novel to read.
As it was, it took me a long time to gather the courage to read Gone Baby Gone. The novel arrived on my TBR pile when my children were young. Now that they're 21 and 15, I felt ready to read Dennis Lehane, and I'm glad I did. Yes, the book was emotionally difficult at times, but the subject of child abduction was handled with passion, compassion, and a writing style that kept me turning the pages. People have recommended more of Lehane's books to me. This time, I won't wait so long to read them.
on June 24, 2002
Gone, Baby, Gone is one of Lehane's best Kenzie/Gennaro books, even though its subject matter, the kidnapping and abuse of children, isn't particularly sunny. Patrick and Angela are called on to investigate the disappearance of four-year-old Amanda McCready, who lives with an awful, distracted, zero of a mother. Her inattention to her daughter and her needs is painted so vividly that it is easy to hope that, wherever she is, Amanda's life is somehow better. This disappearance leads the detectives into a morass of drug dealers and pedophiles and crooked police.
Ultimately, it all leads to a gripping, heart-breaking climax that is pretty much a no-win situation for all involved. Sure, there are some contrivances in the plot that bring us to this point--as other reviewers have pointed out--but this is still one heck of a powerful book, with vivid characters and a real sense of setting and community. We can see how the neighborhood gives birth to monsters like Cheese Olamon and Angie's and Patrick's "friend" Bubba, while others choose another route for their lives. This is a step up from the previous book, Sacred, and shows Lehane getting ready for the powerhouse book to come, Mystic River.
on May 12, 2001
When Beatrice McCready and her husband ask Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro to help find a missing niece, the detective partners immediately realize that they do not want this case. At the end of three days, police have failed to turn up even a minor lead to the missing Amanda. Helene, Amanda's mother, is a drug addict and alcoholic who has raised the four-year-old child in near total neglect. This was a case with few possible good endings.
Kenzie and Gennaro are unable to resist Beatrice's pleas, though, and thus begins the harrowing tale of "Gone, Baby, Gone." As they dig away at a trail that leads to dead-end bars, drug dealers in prison and hints of child abuse the two detectives tease away at the mystery. When a shoot-out in a quarry nearly kills the detective team, the two realize that they are up against an evil that will stop at nothing to keep Amanda's fate a secret. An evil that corrupts everything it touches.
"Gone, Baby, Gone" is the grimmest of the Kenzie and Gennaro series. While not the most violent or horrific of the series, it eats away at you steadily as the detectives untangle Amanda's story. The fine narrative style and sparkling dialogue that marks a Lehane story draw you in and mesmerize you, but the little voice in your head never forgets that at the heart of this crime is a young child. You share in the anguish as betrayal destroys friendship, as right becomes wrong and relationships are strained to the breaking point.
Lehane has once again written the perfect balance between psychological thriller and devastating action story. "Gone, Baby, Gone" is not for the fainthearted. Long time Lehane fans will know what to expect, but newcomers might want to read some earlier novels in the series. This is intense noir fiction at it's best.
on February 13, 2001
With each successive work in his Kenzie/Gennaro private investigator series, Dennis Lehane has shown increasing maturity, depth, and complexity in his writing. The plots have become more unpredictable in their various twists and turns, and his treatment of socially relevant subject matter has become more insightful. Given that its subject is crimes against children, *Gone, Baby, Gone* is a highly disturbing and depressing work, but one that is sufficiently well-presented to be rewarding for readers.
The best mysteries include surprises in the plot, hidden clues that lead to later revelations that transform the entire nature of the crime under scrutiny and point toward suspects that heretofore were considered above reproach. Lehane has crafted just such a story here, and in doing so has created a book that in many ways resembles the work of Michael Connelly, perhaps the very best writer in the contemporary "hip private eye" genre.
Whereas in *Sacred*, Lehane provided few new insights into his male and female protagonists, in this book, Patrick and Angela are shaken to their very emotional foundations by the nature of the crimes they are investigating, and this leads the reader ever-deeper into their respective psyches. It must be said, however, that Lehane's ability to probe Kenzie's thoughts and reflections is far superior to what he demonstrates with respect to Angela. I must say, in fact, that besides being "gorgeous" and a great sharpshooter, Gennaro is not really presented as a particularly appealing or interesting character, at least in my view. Maybe it's her chain-smoking that alienates me.
Finally: the extremely dark, almost nihilistic view of human life presented by Lehane can be depressing, but readers should keep in mind that this element of *noir* is part and parcel of this venerable literary genre. In other words, it makes for a great read and some valuable insights into the dark recesses of the human soul, but it's best not taken TOO very seriously.
on August 7, 2000
Well I have found a new favorite author. I picked up Dennis Lehane's newest book "Prayers For Rain" at the bookstore, and up until that day I had never heard of him before, well thats changed and i finished the last of all his books last night. Gone, Baby, Gone. Follows Patrick Kenzie and Angela Genarro around the Boston area (as usual with all Lehane books) This time in search of a young girl named Amanda McCready who has seemingly disappeared into thin air. With more plot twist's and changes of direction thand a snake this book will have you turned around backwards in no time. This book was well written with beleivable heros who grew up with little money, and even less of secure families, everything a good mystery should be but it is not for those with weak stomachs, with Kenzie and Genaro in the heart of the missing childs department of the Boston p.d., there are more stories of child creulty and neglect than you may want to hear. I suggest that everyone read Lehanes second book "Darkness, Take My Hand" before anyother books, i made the mistake of reading it last, and I already knew the outcome from all of the other Lehane books.
on May 18, 2000
Every once in a while, I enjoy the fantasy of becoming a writer. Then I read something like Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone, and I am completely intimidated. The characters jump off the page and are incredibly real, even those who are not around for long. The action, the frustrations, and the motivations of the characters make this book a compelling read.
This book is one of the most enjoyable books I have experienced in a while. The only caveat is that some of the scenes --ok one in particular--will turn your stomach and break your heart. You'll know it when you get there. I had to stop at that point and take a break.
LeHane's "turning the universe on its ear" trick, which I saw in his Sacred, is present here too and it works. A reasonable, but off the wall, plot twist...it's refreshing.
The best thing about the novel, though, is that the ultimate answer is not clean. Without being preachy, Lehane hits the issue on the head, and the characters grow and change as a result of their experiences over the course of the novel.
This book is like few others. I strongly recommend you pick it up. I'm glad I did.
P.S. In response to an earlier review, I'll explain the prologue and epilogue if you want, but you'll have to email me.
on March 12, 2000
Any voracious reader will occasionally find themselves playing what I refer to as "the library lottery"--stand in the middle of the library's fiction section, let their gaze drift over the amassed titles, and just grab a book at random, hoping that their choice will be, at the very least, a few hours' diversion. So it was one spring afternoon for me when my eyes fell upon "Gone, Baby, Gone." Dennis Lehane? Hmm, never heard of him. The cover blurb looked relatively interesting, and I do try to break out of my rut from time to time, so I brought it home.
Three pages into the book, I knew I had hit the literary equivalent of the jackpot.
"Gone ..." is the third Lehane novel to feature private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, who are struggling with both their personal and professional lives together while they work to find a missing child. As with Lehane's other Kenzie/Gennaro books, it's not necessary to have read others in the series to follow Patrick and Angie's past, although enough references are made to make the reader want to seek out what came before. Lehane has one of the best feels for dialogue in modern fiction, and his plots are tight without being predictable. To the best of my knowledge, I'm one of the few who discovered Dennis Lehane with this particular book (the book I most often hear cited is "Darkness, Take My Hand," his second novel, which is also great). If you've never read Dennis Lehane, you will not go wrong with this or any of his novels. He's one of the best out there right now, and he's on the verge of becoming huge.