Live by Night – Dennis Lehane

It’s Prohibition time in America. Joe Coughlin’s dad is a police captain, but Joe is a gangster. He prefers to call himself an outlaw, but that fake glamorization fades as he makes his way from small stuff to the big time. And on the way, there is the expected tableaux of violence, punctuated with asides reflecting the human side of the character.

Lehane is a great writer, and this is a well crafted story, crammed full of good stuff. But it does not stand out. Sure, there are twists and turns, and – as you expect from Lehane – the plot is watertight and artfully revealed. But there’s no fresh angle or sharp insight. In short, it’s just another gangster story. So, regrettably, I cannot join the critics who raved about it. Yes, it’s good, and it is absolutely worth reading. But it’s not a standout, and neither is it Lehane’s finest work.

Score: 7/10.