Books 2010 #17 Moonlight Mile

While I enjoyed Dennis Lehane’s Moonlight Mile it felt, almost from page one, that he was writing this book to really put an end to the Kenzie/Gennaro novels. Clearly, things had changed for them to the point (a kid, ’nuff said) where they fit awkwardly into a world they once naturally inhabited.

On the one hand, it was a natural evolution for the characters who had grown older and had more than a few life changing experiences over the years. On the other… it made another book in this series seem entirely, completely, utterly pointless.

I mean, the fact that they’re no longer cut out for this line of work is spoken aloud by both themselves and some thugs that rough Patrick up early in the novel. Seriously, it’s that clearly stated. The characters might as well have said “dear reader, Dennis Lehane would like to go back to writing thick-ass historical fiction. Would you please let this pair ride off into the sunset together?” and it wouldn’t have been more clear in intent. The thing is… it was honest. It wasn’t forced. I never thought that Lehane said yes to the book and then regretted it, writing it the way he did to ensure he’d never have to return. It was basically the most logical path they could take, considering the circumstances.

All that aside, this was a pretty good book. Not the best in the series, but the simple fact that we got to revisit the characters (and key moral dilemma) from Gone Baby Gone was enough to make this book worthwhile. The arc and shape of Amanda McCready’s life alone were worth the effort. I’d buy a book based on her life, to be honest. Whatever way you might think she would have grown up after the events in Gone, Baby, Gone- throw them out the window. No matter what you’d expect, she’s different than that.

Very cool.

What this book lacked, and this gets to the heart of the pointlessness of these books going forward, is the gritty, visceral violence of the earlier books. Patrick is tired, cautious and has way too much to live for to still represent the fuck-you-i’m-from-Dorchester archetype he so wonderfully represented in the earlier books. Angie is so far removed from that life she’s hard to recognize as the same intimidating woman. And for them, that’s a good thing. Patrick especially… Being a borderline psycho (with a heart of gold) can only get you so far in this life. It can also get you shot, sliced with a box cutter (wasn’t it?), tortured, blown up (or was that a car crash) and whatever else happened to him throughout the years. For us? Not so good. Gone is the delicious thought in the back of your mind, reading these books, that no matter how bad it looks for the pair of them, Patrick will find some way to get them out of it and exact some sort of satisfying revenge upon the people doing him wrong. There’s some of it here, Bubba’s aid in recovering a stolen laptop is a noteworthy example, but Patrick ends up well down in the ledger by the end of the book. He’s an awkard, older guy who’s completely lost his edge. He’s the one at a disadvantage all the time. Again, in the context of everything it made sense (and in terms of the ending actually heightened things a bit,) it’s just not exactly what I want out of these characters.

So, to sum up: It’s a good book, just not the best in the series, working best as a slightly awkward farewell to the characters.

So, with all that in mind, Au Revoir you crazy kids!

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