Reader reviews and comments on Live by Night, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Live by Night

By Dennis Lehane

Live by Night
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 2012,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: May 2013,
    416 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book


Page 1 of 5
There are currently 37 reader reviews for Live by Night
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Les G. (Fort Collins, CO) (10/05/12)

Fascinating Story
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.
Mary G. (Purcellville, VA) (09/25/12)

Lehane's best work
Live By Night is the rare sequel that is actually better than its predecessor--in this case The Given Day. Not only is this a fascinating look at the Prohibition era, but the characters are utterly intriguing. I was very conflicted about who were the good guys and who were the bad. Lehane says in the book that people are not good or bad, they are just trying to get by. I think that moral flexibility is what sets Lehane's books apart.
Melissa Y. (Knoxville, TN) (09/09/12)

Fantastic Read!
What a book! This was my first time reading a book by this author and I will definitely read more. It's seems rare anymore that I become fully immersed in a story and its characters while totally losing track of time. Live by Night was one of those rare books. Its beautifully written with underlying moral dilemmas, complex characters and even a love story thrown in. Live by Night is a fantastic read.
Cheryl W. (Cassville, MO) (08/27/12)

Live By Night
I have read all of Dennis Lehane's work. This is not one of his best. It had a slow start and an abrupt end. If you have never read his work before this is not the one to start with. I was disappointed.
Lora O. (Antioch, CA) (08/26/12)

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.
Kristine L. (The Woodlands, TX) (08/24/12)

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!
Lauren C. (Los Angeles, CA) (08/22/12)

All Historical Fiction, Not a Thriller
I have read other books by Dennis Lehane and have enjoyed them very much, but those have been his modern day detective stories. I knew that this book was going to take place during Prohibition, and assumed that Lehane would find a way to do the same sort of thriller in a different backdrop.

Instead this was a pretty standard run-of-the-mill "my adventures as a gangster" story. It has the 1920s setting-- Prohibition, racial tensions in Boston and elsewhere, Ku Klux Klan, anarchists. However, it is a story that you've read and seen lots of times before, and it lacks any of the edginess that you might see on "Boardwalk Empire" or read/see in the "Godfather".

Lehane knows how to write so it wasn't a difficult read, but I'll be sticking to his modern day crime stories from now on. While I do read historical novels from time to time, I prefer ones that have a unique twist or are a bit edgier. If you like historical noves in general you would probably enjoy this more than I did.
Patricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA) (08/19/12)

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.
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  66Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.