Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Twelve years ago private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro's lives became consumed when they went searching for 4 year old Amanda McCready. The young girl, kidnapped from the home of her negligent mother, was at the center of a controversy when she ended up being found in a very unlikely place. After Amanda was found, she was returned to the disastrous home of her mother Helene, and Patrick and Angie began to move on with their lives. Now, 12 years later, Patrick and Angie are struggling to raise a family, which is all the harder because Patrick doesn't have a stable job and Angie is going to school. Pressure is mounting from all sides, and just when it looks like Partick could land a prestigious job as an investigator for a very upscale law firm, a face from his past comes back into sight. Out of the blue he is accosted by Amanda McCready's grandmother, who tells her that the now 16 year old Amanda has vanished again. Despite Patrick's initial reluctance to handle the case, he goes for it, and what he uncovers is not only seedy and dangerous, but this time the clues implicate Amanda herself. With time running out, Patrick and Angie begin a quest to find Amanda, and in doing so, they also uncover a group of people involved in a dangerous and unusual scheme. With a plot that moves like a speeding train and some of the most unsavory and entertaining villains ever to be seen on the page, Lehane gives us the conclusion of a case started 12 years ago, and an investigator like no other, the inimitable Patrick Kenzie.
I haven't read many of Lehane's books, but what I have read has really impressed me. A few months ago I read and really loved Shutter Island and found myself thinking and rethinking about the book long after I turned the last page. I know he has a few other books that deal with Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, but I hadn't read any of them. I didn't feel lost at all in this story because I'd seen the movie version of the first book in this series, Gone Baby, Gone. One thing I thought was funny about reading this book was since I had seen Ben Affleck play Patrick Kenzie in the movie, I couldn't for the life of me not see him while I was reading Moonlight Mile. I think it actually made the book more enjoyable for me to be able to connect the actions of Patrick Kenzie with a face that I like very much!
One of the things I liked most about this book was the realistic grittiness of it. Everything seemed to have a patina of grubbiness and grime to it that gave the book an unusually urban flavor and a hard edge. Lehane gets the dialect of the streets down perfectly, as well as the description of a town that has been subsumed by the economic recession. He shows the dichotomy of those who live the high life by being lowlifes, and the desperation of those who can't make ends meet and who have to turn to unlikely and unwholesome ventures to get by. Lahane is a master of creating whole worlds and societies that mirror our own in frightening complexity and darkness, and his uncanny ability to populate his world with smugglers, druggies, mobsters, prostitutes and others of the same ilk is not only impressive, but authentic as well.
It was interesting to see the way Patrick had grown from the first part of this story to the second. No longer a heedless rebel, Patrick is now more restrained and thinks more about the things he does. His conscience troubles him because of the work he must do to feed his family, and his sense of being a vigilante out for justice seems more subdued as well. He feels the pressure of his life acutely and finds himself at a crossroads when deciding which direction his life will go in. This was a much more mature and level-headed man, a man who seemed to have so much more to protect and so much more to lose. I liked that Lehane made Patrick the kind of character you could not only become invested in, but lose yourself in, and that throughout the book, while Patrick is wrestling with the evil that surrounds him, he's also wrestling with himself.
There were a lot of genuinely surprising things about this book, from the canny and hilarious Russian mobsters, to the villains hiding in plain sight, to the lengths Amanda will go to keep her secrets hidden. While I found the book to be very enthralling and entertaining, I also found the conclusion to be a little far-fetched. It wasn't so much of a problem that it marred my enjoyment of the book, but I think Lehane went a little too far out into left field to tie all of the aspects of his story together. The journey and the characters made this a top-notch suspense novel, but in the end, I had trouble believing that things would turn out this way in the end. I think that had Lehane managed to go in another direction, the book would have been flawless, but it seems like he might have written himself into a corner that he had trouble getting out of.
Despite the conclusion, I found quite a lot to admire in this strange and twisted tale, and for the most part, the book was easy to pick up and get lost in for countless hours. I loved the complexity of the characters and the strange circumstances that brought them all together, and found that although I usually have a hard time enjoying these books, Lehane is very capable with his material and manages to sweep his story into the highest realms of suspense and action. If you have a chance to read this book, I would say go for it. It is full of twists and turns that might just surprise you.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.
Posted by Zibilee at 8:00 AM