"Live By Night" is an incendiary story, spanning the rise in power of Joe Coughlin who is about to turn age twenty as the story unfolds.
Prior to the action in the story, there is a scene where Joe is in the hands of his enemies. It appears as if these are his last moments and we read in anticipation of how he came to this situation and if there is any way he can extricate himself and survive.
Those who have read Dennis Lehane in the past, know how memorable his characters can be. Just consider the grieving father, Jimmy Markum and his nervous childhood friend, Dave Boyle, in "Mystic River."
Here, again, Lehane returns to Boston to create Joe Coughlin, a strong, resolute, son of Thomas, the deputy supervisor of the Boston Police Department.
The action begins in South Boston in 1926. Mobs ruled the city and Joe is the youngest member of Tim Hickey's crew. Most of the mobsters have a cruel streak and the taking of another's life means little to them. However, Joe is an anachronism in that he cares for his friends and those around him.
After spending time in the Charlestown Prison and being there when Sacco and Vanzetti are executed, Joe makes his way to Tampa where his goal is to destroy a man who robbed him of his first love.
I was impressed to watch Joe's rise to power and the manner in which he demonstrates his strength and leadership ability. There was something about him that made others want to follow him.
The prose is descriptive and vivid. We know who is talking and can describe them by their words. Joe Coughlin will take his place as one of Lehane's characters who live on in our memories and Lehane strengthens his reputation as one of our premier storytellers.