Title: Moonlight Mile
Publisher: Little, Brown
Hardback: 372 pages
Publication Date: 03/02/2011
After a hiatus of almost twelve years, Dennis Lehane has finally returned to his Kenzie and Gennaro series [and, if reports are to be believed, this will be the final outing]. In the intervening years Lehane has written four novels, had three of his books adapted into Hollywood films, and scripted episodes for the indescribably brilliant HBO television series The Wire.
It’s strange – and quite scary – to think that it was 1999 when Prayers for Rain was published [the last Kenzie and Gennaro novel, and the one that really brought Lehane to the attention of many Americans after Bill Clinton was photographed disembarking from Air Force One with a copy in hand. Some publicity really is priceless!]. So when I heard that his new book would see the return of private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, I was very excited.
The novel – Moonlight Mile – is set over a decade after the events of Prayers for Rain. It’s quite a risk for an author to allow his central characters to age and evolve quite as much as Patrick and Angie have in this novel, but it’s a fascinating and intriguing risk and one which Lehane pulls off ably.
And life really has changed for the two of them. They are married – again – and have a four-year-old daughter, Gabby [it’s incredibly weird to think of gun-toting Angie as a mother!]. And Patrick is struggling to pay the bills, working as a freelancer for a big investigation firm. But when he discovers that sixteen-year-old Amanda McCready [who they had found twelve years before when she was kidnapped in Gone, Baby, Gone] has vanished again, Patrick cannot stop himself from getting involved. But when things start to spiral dangerously out of control, Patrick realises that his actions may have put his family in mortal peril . . .
Witty and fast-paced, with razor-sharp prose, Moonlight Mile was a very enjoyable read. However, I have to admit that, on occasion, I found the way that Angie and Patrick act around one another slightly cloying and annoying. And I was also disappointed by the minor role that Patrick’s border-line psychotic sidekick Bubba plays in the novel. For me, Bubba is the most interesting character in the series, and the sections of Moonlight Mile that he appears in are easily the best parts of the novel. Personally, I would just like to have seen more of him.
That’s not to say that this wasn’t a good read. Because it was. And it’s filled with that mixture of humour and gritty realism that has become Lehane’s forte, and the plot is well constructed with a number of cracking twists [a couple of which I foresaw, but also a few that took me completely by surprise]. Moonlight Mile certainly isn’t Lehane’s best work, but it’s still a long way above most of the competition.