Pairing Books with Movies: Moonlight Mile

Friday, January 11, 2013

Moonlight Mile
by Dennis Lehane

No one writes a thriller quite like Lehane. From the heartbreaking story in Mystic River to the mind-bending twists in Shutter Island, his books are undeniably addictive. He gives the reader so much more than good plot points; he creates powerful characters that feel relatable and real.

This book is the latest installment of the Kenzie and Gennaro series (which includes Sacred, Prayers for Rain, A Drink Before the War, etc.). It is a direct sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone (published in 1999) and you really need to read that one first to understand what’s going on. The rest of my review will assume you’ve read Gone, Baby, Gone.

What I’ve always loved about Lehane’s work is his ability to capture and communicate the moral ambiguity of a case without seeming preachy. He tackles impossible issues from the perspective of his “everyman” detective Patrick Kenzie. He faces the darkest corners of society and manages to come out alive, though never completely unscathed.

In Gone, Baby, Gone Kenzie searches for a kidnapped girl named Amanda McCready. When he eventually finds her he struggles with the decision of whether of not to return her to her neglectful mother. He eventually decides that he as to take her back to her parent, but that decision has lasting consequences. At the beginning of this book Kenzie finds out that Amanda, now a teenager, has gone missing again.

I really enjoyed this one because we have the chance to see the characters we’ve grown to love in another phase of life. Patrick and Angie are married and have a daughter. They’re trying to find a stable balance in their lives while still pursuing careers that interest them.

There were a few moments when the novel lost its footing for me. This was mainly when Lehane tried to write like a teenager would speak and when he talked about technology. In both instances the novel felt forced. It wasn’t enough to ruin anything for me; it just took me out of the story for a second.

BOTTOM LINE: This one is a must for fans of the series, but it’s not a great starting point if you’re new to his work. I’d recommend starting with the first Kenzie book, or with either of the stand alone novels Mystic River or Shutter Island.

Pair with a viewing of Shutter Island, Mystic River or Gone, Baby, Gone all of which are film versions of Lehane’s books. Also check out the TV show The Killing which has a similar feel.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Yeah, I pretty much ditto what you said. I love Lehane..I've read so many of his books. And I loved seeing "the gang" again in this one, but it was definitely weaker than his other books. But OMG didn't you love that Russian mobster? I can't remember the last time I became so enamoured of a bad guy (who really wasn't so bad).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - He was fantastic! I am a sucker a great bad guy.