Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Live by Night-Dennis Lehane

Live by Night

Dennis Lehane

Morrow, Oct 2 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780060004873

In 1926 Boston, nineteen year old troubled youth Joe Coughlin prefers the illegal night life in spite of his dad and older brother being cops. Joe supplies hookers and illegal drugs and alcohol to customers. During a heist with the Bartolo brothers of a speakeasy owned by Albert White, Joe meets Emma Gould. That robbery proves fruitful for Joe’s career when he ends up in prison where Mafia Don Maso Pescatore befriends him, as he likes the kid’s moxie.

In 1929 after Joe leaves prison, Maso puts him in charge of his West Florida operation based in Tampa. Over the years, Joe builds a powerful underworld empire and marries Cuban Graciela Corrales. He relocates his headquarters to Havana where Batista is friendly to American gangsters for the right price. As he continues to thrive, cracks begin to surface from within, and from without as rivals and ambitious mobsters want more than just a piece of his action and from the changing American and Cuban governmental interests.

Almost a decade since Joe first appeared in The Given Day, this is an entertaining epic of a career gangster. The storyline is great when the plot is in Boston and prison; it remains strong in Tampa, but in the stretch, the drama seems a bit muddled as too much happens. Still fans will relish Dennis Lehane’s deep look at the life of a twentieth century gangster.

Harriet Klausner

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