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Book Review: Gone Baby Gone, Dennis Lehane

I really like good crime novels and this author and book was recommended to me by someone who shares my reading tastes with the caveat that Lehane was ‘the best’ crime writer he’d ever read. When Katherine Howell, a sensational crime writer herself seconded that, along with some other FaceBook friends, I knew I had to read him. So, I came to this book with very high expectations. I was not disappointed.┬áThis tale of the kidnapping of a young girl, taken from her narcissistic and pathetic mother who left her alone in an apartment while she went out to a hotel to get resoundingly drunk, is not an easy read. The reason for this is not the writing, which is tight, fast-paced and has some of the best dialogue I have ever read, but because Lehane takes you by the scruff of the neck and drops you into the dark and seamy-side of life without so much as allowing you a deep breath or giving you a warning. One minute, you’re sitting side by side with the main characters, Private Investigators, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, the next, you’re witness to some of the most gut-wrenching and horrific crimes imaginable and face to face with the awful human beings who commit them. You are inside their heads and homes, gasping at what you find and unable to reconcile what is there. You feel soiled at best, violated at worst. Lehane takes no prisoners and I wasn’t prepared for some of the scenes and outcomes that this book delivers. In that way, this was a difficult and fraught read. I found myself pausing and considering the place I’d just left (physical, psychological and emotional), the people Lehane had paraded before me. He has this stunning ability to allow you access into these people – the good, the bad and the ugly – only, nothing is black and white and I think, of all the crime books I’ve read, this one makes that so apparent.I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot except to say, the end when it arrives is one you don’t see coming and it certainly makes you think. It makes you despair of human nature and question the law, morality and just what is ‘right’ something Kenzie and Gennaro also find they’re forced to do and with unexpected consequences.

It will be a little while before I can face a Lehane again – not because I didn’t like it – on the contrary – but because the plunge I have just taken will resonate with me for a long time and I need to recover. But have no doubt, I will be back for more.

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