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a compelling story and good character
As noted by some of the other reviewers, the first sentence grabs the reader and the good writing holds the reader to the end. In my opinion, this is not Lehane's best work (I think "The Given Day" was better), but it is an interesting look at organized crime during the Prohibition era. Even more, it is an interesting character study in which the protagonist is a "bad guy" but has many redeeming qualities. It is never adequately explained why he chose a life of crime (most sons rebel against their fathers without going to that extreme), but having done it, he certainly became a multi-faceted criminal, and the reader cheers him on in spite of some pretty fundamental character flaws.
Bill B. (Irvine, CA)
Live by Night never slows down
Has Dennis Lehane started his own genre?
Doris K. (Angora, MN)
Live by Night
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.
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.
Maggie P. (Mount Airy, MD)
A step back in time
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.
This book was a real page turner. It grabbed my interest on the first page and did not let it go. Lehane's language painted a picture of the times, gritty when it needed to be and a splash of color and hope when it was important. I would recommend this book to those that like a bit of history thrown into their fiction and to those who love action. Clear your calendars because this is a book you won't want to put down.
Irene M. (Ashland, OR)
Live by Night
Another Lehane page-turner. Once I started this book I didn't want to put it down. It's a good story with a twist at the end. The novel has everything; good, evil, love, hate, loyality and revenge, His characters are rich and you certainly care about them, one way or the other. I look forward to his next novel.
Linda B. (Sheridan, WY)
Live By Night
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane is a suspense/mystery story that I enjoyed. As a suspense/ mystery fan, it was fun to read a story quite different from most stories I’ve read. I feel the writing is good and the characters are well defined.
William Y. (Lynchburg, VA)
Live by Night, Dennis Lehane
This book would appeal to mystery readers as well as those who enjoy suspense. Book clubs could find many areas to discuss from gangsters and their morality to knowing how to love the right person. I would not call it a Young Adult story even though the protagonist is in his late teens. It can make you smile occasionally, but is basically a serious story with serious questions. Who will get killed? Who will not get killed? Who is trustworthy, if anyone? I appreciate the chance to read this book.
Coming four years after the success of his 2008 novel Unto This Day, Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night continues his saga of Boston’s Coughlin family. Set in the late 1920s and on into the Great Depression, the book follows the up-and-down career of Joe Coughlin, the youngest son in this star-crossed dynasty.
Norman G. (Diamond Bar, CA)
Best novel reviewed to date
Although he built his initial fame on mysteries (Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island; others), Lehane has proved himself a fine recorder of social history and has been compared to John Dos Passos and E.L. Doctorow in this genre. He exposes the grimy underside of Boston during the early years of the 20th century, an era that witnessed the rise of lawlessness between Italian and Irish gangs during Prohibition.
Not so much a mystery as a detailed chronicle of Joe’s life, from small-time Boston bootlegger to king of the illicit rum trade in Tampa, Florida, Live by Night is a genuine page-turner, a compulsive read that presents Lehane’s colorful style in all its richness. Filled with period details and a cast of gangster characters hard to forget, the novel should appeal to a large and varied audience.
William H. Young, August 2012
I have reviewed about eight books thus far and Dennis Lehane's Live by Night stands out as my most enjoyable read. The accuracy of the time period, the originality of the characters, and the evolving plot made for a quick and suspenseful read. The New England, Florida, Cuba connection along with the somewhat atypical hero gave an excellent perspective on the prohibition years. I cannot think of how Lehane could have made it better.