Live By Night by Dennis Lehane(4 out of 5)
This novel spans from Boston in the late 1920’s to Miami. Prohibition has done a number on Boston, as it has everywhere in the Roaring 20’s. Joe Coughlin is the son of a corrupt and prominent police captain, and working his own magic for a group of mobsters at war in the city. While he enjoys the spoils of his “trade”, he’s also trying to make his mark. That’s where love enters the picture and spoils the whole plan. He falls for the gal of Albert White, who’s in control of the entire city. Bullets fly, bodies fall, the affair continues on, and before he knows it, Joe is convicted of a botched bank robbery(Albert, knowing that his gal and Joe are sleeping together, gets him turned in and he’s sent up the river) and he’s off to the pokey. His gal is murdered, his father “dies”, and many of his friends are killed. When he gets out of the box, he’s toughened, and determined to start over elsewhere. He heads to Miami and meets up with old contacts, and begins to take control of the bustling rum trade down in Miami. Ironically, Albert turns up here, as being the main wheels of the operation. Joe methodically takes the wheels off the rum cart, and Albert is forced to come down to Miami. In the meantime, Joe gets mixed up with a group of Cuban rebels, and ends up falling head over heels in love with the wife of another imprisoned gangster. They get married, have a kid, have a elitist lifestyle going- and boom! Albert re-appears with his gang and the shit really hits the fan. Albert finds out that the girl he loves(Albert’s gal whom he was messing with) is still alive, and he gets closure- although he certainly gets the answers he sought, and more heartbreak.
The final three chapters STUNNED me. I didn’t see any of it coming. That’s when you realize that Dennis Lehane is one hell of a writer. This book took over a week for me to finish. Not sure why it took so long to absorb it, but it’s not your typical Lehane book. It felt like he was writing this book to turn into a screenplay for a movie. Well, if that happens, I would certainly see it. It was a great book, I just couldn’t pick it up and read it in two or three days, and I think that’s why it lost something for me. If you have a family member or you like the Mario Puzo Godfather series, this is a less lengthy substitute. Great, great book.