I recently read on Twitter that Dennis Lehane will be writing another Patrick & Angie book. It will be the sequel to Gone Baby Gone, set some 11 years later. That’s awesome news for Dennis Lehane fans considering that the last book in that series was written in 1999.
So, who are Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro? Well, both are PI’s from Boston. Both enjoyed a brief romantic relationship that got royally tested in Gone Baby Gone, which was adapted to film by Hollywood (haven’t seen it).
I’ve read maybe three of the books in the series. Own them all in hardcover, though, with the first two signed by the author. The series starts with A Drink Before the War which mainly has Patrick and Angie trying to head off a race war. But why is this series so popular? Well, first Lehane can write really, really well. Also, his characters aren’t always chasing down serial killers. Last – his stories often are thought-provoking. He is the master of moral ambiguity. He even managed to make a completely horrible character into one I came to sympathize with.
Then there’s the racist, misogynistic psychopath, Bubba Rogowski. He’s someone who Patrick and Angie use on occasion for muscle and protection. With the bad guys they are always running into, yeah, he was needed. There’s a hilarious scene in one of the books, I want to say in Darkness, Take My Hand, where Patrick and Angie are visiting Bubba at his house and he has to give them explicit instructions on entry because his house is armed to the teeth.
There are many moments of humor in the series to even out the dark but what draws readers into Lehane’s world is the writing and watching how his characters deal with the moral dilemmas they are faced with. Watching how they deal with the consequences of their choices and actions. Their world is often dark and the people they meet sometimes are monsters in the guise of politicians, cops or whatever. Interesting in that their world isn’t too different from our own.
Anyway, like many fans, I look forward to just about anything Dennis Lehane writes. He is one of the few writers I can say, without thinking twice in that: he can’t write a bad book even if he tried. If you are interested in reading Dennis Lehane’s books, check out the list below. His novels don’t tend to stand alone well as each successive entry spoils it for the next. I am envious of fans just now discovering him. His standalone novels are really good too (although it took awhile for me to realize that fact).
Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro Series
- A Drink Before the War (1994)
- Darkness, Take My Hand (1996)
- Sacred (1997)
- Gone, Baby, Gone (1998)
- Prayers For Rain (1999)
- The Given Day (2009)
- Mystic River (2001)
- Shutter Island (2003)
As you can see, he doesn’t even have an extensive backlist and already many consider him one of the best writers around. Are there any writers who write similarly? Hard pressed to answer that because Lehane has a certain style that is hard to mimic. But usually Lehane is compared to George Pelancanos only because both writers write hardboiled mysteries and seem to enjoy writing stories about the street or urban communities where the American Dream is much more difficult to obtain given many obstacles thrown forth in one’s path such as race, economics, politics and ect cetra and so forth. Excellent writer worth checking out.
Side Note: January Magazine is one of my favorite interviews with him.
Updated: Corrected title of “Any Given Day” to “The Given Day.”