Patricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA)
Living through Prohibition
Dennis Lehane is a magician of history, bringing the past alive and allowing readers to relive prominent events. Live By Night focuses on the 1920s and 1930s, the rum runners, the gangsters, police and government corruption, and some wonderful characters. The main story deals with Joe Coughlin surviving through these roaring 20s. His toughness allows him to survive a horrible time in jail, but coming out to become one of the wealthiest heads of rum running from the Gulf states and up the Atlantic coast. Living in this era the competition was dangerous, devious, and all-around cutthroat. Joe's story makes this book a page-turner with this reader asking for more of the same type of story from Lehane. An excellent book sure to be a best seller.
Judi C. (QUARTZSITE, AZ)
Smooth, gritty, vivid!
This is a solid read taking you to 1926 prohibition era Boston, Ybor City/Tampa and even Cuba over an eleven year period.
It follows the outlaw life of the charismatic Joe Coughlin, a smart kid who early on gets undone by a femme fatale.
I recommend Live by Night to anyone who likes to be transported to another time and place.
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.
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.
Viqui G. (State College, PA)
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.
Marion T. (Palatine, IL)
Live by Night
This is the first Dennis Lehane book I have read but diffidently not the last. The story is filled with love, loss, betrayal and redemption. A historical fiction set in the 1920's probation era about gangsters, crooked cops, thugs, spanning through Boston, Florida and Cuba. A good read from the historical view point and the thriller side.
Bill B. (Irvine, CA)
Live by Night never slows down
Has Dennis Lehane started his own genre?
This is truly historical fiction as an action, thriller, family saga.
Set in the Prohibition era in Boston, Tampa, and Cuba, there is plenty of gang warfare, betrayals, revenge, graft, and violence.
Lehane's sharp, crisp writing makes all his settings and characters interesting. You feel like you are there – booing the villains and worrying about our gangster hero.
But this book is essentially about the the action.
The story races along and you can't wait to follow.
Lehane has written another winner. You'll love it. I did.