Summary (from Goodreads):
“From Gone, Baby, Gone to Mystic River to Shutter Island to The Given Day, the phenomenal Dennis Lehane has proven himself to be one of the most versatile and exciting novelists working in America today–whether he’s breaking new ground with uniquely inventive psychological suspense, redefining the detective story, or bringing a bygone era to life with sweeping and masterful historical fiction. He’s back with Live by Night, an epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties. Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades New York Times bestseller Lehane consistently receives are well deserved. He is indeed, “a master” (Philadelphia Inquirer) whose “true literary forefathers include John Steinbeck as well as Raymond Chandler” (Baltimore Sun). And, “Boy, does he know how to write” (Elmore Leonard).”
Dennis Lehane has been one of my favorite authors since I first saw Mystic River. I loved the movie so much that I bought the novel it was based on. That was my gateway drug and then I read the Kenzie/Gennaro series and Shutter Island (all that was out at the time).
While I prefer his mysteries more than his historical fiction, that’s basically the same way that I prefer sushi to Chinese food. I love both and in the case of Dennis Lehane, I pretty much adore every novel he writes regardless of setting or plot.
This one was no exception. We first met Joe in The Given Day, but it’s not necessary to read that book to enjoy this one.
One of the things that Dennis Lehane does incredibly well is creating anti-heroes. Joe spends the book on what would be considered the wrong side of the law, but he still abides by his own code of ethics. He’s adamant that he’s an outlaw as opposed to a gangster, but that’s a matter of semantics, really. The thing about Joe is that he’s primarily motivated by love (as opposed to money or power) and that makes him a lot more sympathetic than he would be otherwise.