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Thoughts on “Moonlight Mile” by Dennis Lehane

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane is the latest novel featuring Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, Lehane’s well-known pair of private investigators. It was released yesterday.

About the Book:

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (cover)Patrick Kenzie is freelancing for a large Boston private investigation firm, hoping to land a full-time job and secure steady pay and health insurance for his family. But he doesn’t really like the work, and his attitude seems to be keeping him from the job he needs.

Then Beatrice McCready approaches Patrick and tells him her niece, Amanda, who Patrick and Angie tracked down twelve years ago when she was four, has disappeared again. Sixteen-year-old Amanda is unusually bright and looking at a promising future of her own making…until she inexplicably goes missing. Patrick can’t afford to take on any jobs for free–but he can’t ignore Beatrice McCready, either. With Angie helping out when she can, Patrick dives into a world peopled with drug dealers, criminals, and Russian gangsters where the stakes are high and allegiances tenuous at best.

My Thoughts:

Moonlight Mile was not only my first Patrick and Angie novel, but my first novel by Lehane. The series has been recommended to me several times, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Lehane’s latest.

I was a bit worried about being lost, as I’ve not read the many Patrick and Angie novels that have come before Moonlight Mile. However, Lehane does a good job summarizing relevant cases and events. While I’m sure someone who’d read the previous books would have a deeper understanding of the situation in Moonlight Mile, I never felt lost.

I liked the characters–especially Patrick and Angie. I appreciated that they weren’t the hardened, career-driven PIs that often dominate the pages in detective fiction. I enjoyed their conversations, even if they sometimes seemed a tad cliche. Amanda was wise beyond her years, and even though I kept forgetting she was only sixteen, I admired her self-assuredness and her cunning. I also loved the supporting cast: Patrick and Angie’s daughter Gabby, Patrick’s friend Uncle Bubba, and even Yefim, the Mordovian gangster.

Moonlight Mile reads like what I think of as typical detective fiction. Once I got myself out of literary fiction mode and into serial mystery mode, I found Moonlight Mile easy to read. I found myself enjoying Patrick’s bizarre similes. Every time Yefim opened his mouth, I was entertained. My quibbles with the writing were minor: constant swearing, the mild overuse of extraneous description, and a few too many mentions of shaky hands holding shaky cigarettes.

I finished the novel in a day. The plot moves quickly, and I never found myself bored. I will definitely consider picking up Lehane’s backlist next time I need a quick, engaging read.

Your Turn!

I don’t read a lot of mysteries, mostly because I’m not sure where to find “good” ones. So I’d love to know: you have a favorite mystery series that stands out from the rest?

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  • http://loveyalit.com Em (Love YA Lit)

    I’ve always been a fan of Agatha Christie, particularly Hercule Poirot mysteries, though Miss Marple is pretty great too. And Then There Were None was my favorite as a youth and I recently read ABC Murders and enjoyed it.

    • Erin

      My husband adores Agatha Christie. I remember reading one of her plays when I was in high school, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one of her novels. My husband certainly has quite a collection, so I will check them out!

  • http://wormhole.carnelianvalley.com Charlie

    This sounds rather fun. It’s appealing when there are connections between characters in such a book as you say Patrick and Angie have. I’ve only read teenage mysteries before, though I’ve a couple of others on my list.

    • Erin

      I don’t usually expect to care much about the characters in the occasional mystery I pick up, but Moonlight Mile was different. I was surprised at how much I liked the characters, even if they didn’t grow dramatically as the story progressed!

  • http://www.linussblanket.com Nicole

    I haven’t read any of her mysteries yet but I was really impressed with PD James writing in Children of Men. I can’t imagine that her style would change that much with genre. I am eager to get to one of her mysteries.

    • Erin

      PD James is a name I’ve seen often, but I’ve never read anything by her. Good writing is always a plus!

  • http://nomadreader.blogspot.com nomadreader (Carrie)

    I just got this one too, but like you, I haven’t read Lehane’s previous novels. I’m glad to hear it stands alone well.

    Hands down, my favorite mystery series is by Robert Ellis: the Lena Gamble books. There are only two so far, and you need to read them in order. City of Fire is first and The Lost Witness is the second (and it’s even better than the first.)

    • Erin

      I don’t think you’ll have any problem following the story. Lehane does a good job summarizing what you need to know without it awkwardly interrupting the story.

      I’d never heard of the Lena Gamble books, but I just looked them up. I tend to shy away from mysteries that center on murders, for fear they’ll be to gruesome! (I don’t do gruesome well.) But if you say they’re fantastic, maybe I should give them a shot. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    I’ve read a few Lehane books but not either one of these. I think there is a movie of the previous book (Gone, Baby Gone) that is supposed to be good. He seems to have a lot of movies made from his books.

    • Erin

      I can see where his novels would adapt well to film, if the rest of them are like Moonlight Mile. I’ve heard Mystic River and A Drink Before the War are the next two I should pick up, though I’m interested in his historical fiction, The Given Day, as well. I think Gone, Baby, Gone is actually the book that deals with the first Amanda McCready case, which is referenced often in Moonlight Mile. I’ll have to look into the movie!

  • http://www.thingsmeanalot.com/ Nymeth

    I’m a mystery newbie myself, but after asking for mystery recommendations on my blog I discovered Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey series, and I love it so much it’s ridiculous.

    • Erin

      I’ve heard of Dorothy L. Sayers, but I’ve not read anything by her. I just looked her up on Wikipedia, though, and the Lord Peter Wimsey series does look good! I like the historical aspect; it distances me from whatever bad things happen in the mystery story :-)

  • http://www.bostonbibliophile.com Marie

    Okay. I’ve never read Lehane but I have a copy of this from an event I went to. Sounds like I’d enjoy it but probably miss some things; I think it would be worthwhile anyway though!

    • Erin

      If you really love mystery series, I’d probably read the other Patrick and Angie books before starting Moonlight Mile. But if you don’t mind skipping around, I’d say go for it–I didn’t feel lost at any point.

  • http://www.buriedinprint.com BuriedInPrint

    I’ve never read one of Dennis Lehane’s mysteries either, but I’ve heard lots of good things: glad you enjoyed it. I recently read the first volume of the Louise Penny series and quite enjoyed it (Still Life); my understanding is that you don’t *need* to start at the beginning of that series either, but I can’t help my obsessiveness with that kind of thing.

    • Erin

      Oh, I’ve heard Louise Penny is quite good! If I have any interest in reading a series, I’m a stickler about starting at the beginning. But, since I’m not a big mystery reader and there are a fair number of Patrick and Angie novels before Moonlight mile, I didn’t mind so much reading the newest one out of sequence.