Live By Night
I never expected to like a book about unscrupulous and violent gangsters. However, I have to admit this story was so well written and the characters were so fleshed out and believable that I enjoyed the novel very much. It was a real page-turner. Joe, the main character of this novel, was an entirely likeable guy who happened to be a gangster or as he liked to think of himself, an outlaw. Although I do not agree with Joe's way of life and his methods of "making a living", Dennis Lehane's talent for writing created a protagonist that is hard not to root for. I think that anyone that enjoys good writing and an interesting plot would enjoy this book. I am certainly going to be checking out other Lehane novels after reading this one.
Rated of 5
by Joan C. (Warwick, RI)
Life By Night
How does the son of the Boston Chief of Police turn out to be a gangster? As Dennis LeHane tells us, it turns out to be a very interesting story featuring a very interesting man. It's easy for the reader to slide into the prohibition era with all its drama and strife. You get a first-hand look at the period's sobering reality. LeHane astutely balances the raw violence the era with the humanness of his characters. This book is too good to miss.
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth M. (Syracuse, New York)
Because of the settings of author Dennis Lehane's other books, I anticipated that this story about prohibition era gangsters would center around Boston. The story did start there but then quickly moved south when the main character, Joe Coughlin, is sent to Tampa, Florida to take over the liquor business there. Most of the other books I have read about prohibition era gangsters took place in cities, so it was really interesting to see how the usual gangster problems intermixed with issues of race, such as dealing with the KKK, and with the vibrant population of Cuban nationalists. I really enjoyed following Joe Coughlin's story to see how his morals were shaped by the positions he found himself in and how these morals were shaped by the philanthropic leanings of a woman he meets named Graciela and how these morals clashed with the stricter religious leanings of Tampa's police chief. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in historical fiction of the prohibition era as well as anyone who is interested in considering how you arrive a definition of right and wrong. As a side note, I read this in the summer, but as a native of upstate New York, I can imagine that if I had read Lehane's descriptions of the pre-air conditioning humidity in Tampa during a long, cold winter, this book would have been even more appreciated.
Rated of 5
by Kristine L. (The Woodlands, TX)
Loving the Bad Guy
I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only did I enjoy the historical time period of Boston during the 1920's but I enjoyed the theme's of family - Father and Son, Good and Evil, and a bit of romance too. I honestly think it is a gift to be able to write a novel about a gangster kid and have the reader actually feel empathy and compassion for the "bad guy". An enjoyable read....Thank you!
Rated of 5
by Lora O. (Antioch, CA)
Feel the Heat and Taste the Rum Live By Night follows Any Given Day in the saga of the Coughlin clan, a powerful family with history in Boston police department and some of the characters of the earlier novel make an appearance here. Joe Coughlin is the youngest brother and seeing the corruption around him chooses a less than honorable profession as an outlaw and gangster during prohibition, in the early days of the mafia before World War II. The story moves from Boston to Florida and Cuba, the pace is fast and descriptions extraordinarily vivid. Reading this, I could feel the heat and humidity and feel the smell and taste of rum on my tongue. As one might expect from a book about the mob, there is much killing, gunplay and violence. None of the characters have clean hands or morals that can be admired. I think it’s due to Lehane’s talent as a writer that I really cared about these unlikable people. The world portrayed is a man’s world and there is only one believable and well drawn female character. That said, I couldn’t put it down, and I look forward to Lehane’s next historical novel involving the Couglin clan.
My book club read Any Given Day and enjoyed discussing the historical aspects of the book. Live By Night has less history and doesn’t deal as much with the major political issues of the day, so I don’t think there would be much to discuss as a book club.
Rated of 5
by Les G. (Fort Collins, CO)
I have to admit that I started this book expecting another Shutter Island. It's not like that at all. Instead, Live By Night follows a gangster from Boston to Ybor City as his makes a name for himself and becomes more and more powerful. All in all, it's a very good read, just don't expect something action-packed and thrilling.
Rated of 5
by Doris K. (Angora, MN)
Live by Night
Dennis Lehane is an excellent writer. In this fiction book he gives a hard look into the world of corrupt law enforcement, alcohol production and distribution during the Prohibition. From the beginning of the book you know Joe Coughlin is a criminal. Throughout the book a more compassionate side is shown. The author does a good job of character development. To those readers who don't mind violence in their books this is a good read. It was a bit too much for me. This is the reason I could only rate it as average. I will definitely look for other books by D. Lehane and hope they are not so dark.
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