I’ve been a longtime fan of Dennis Lehane since “Darkness, Take My Hand” was published in 1996, which was the second novel in the Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennaro series. I enjoyed it so much I immediately found the first novel, “A Drink Before the War.”
Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed when Lehane took a break from the series to write other novels such as “Mystic River,” “Shutter Island” and “The Given Day.” I never thought he would be away from Kenzie and Gennaro for more than 11 years.
So, I was jumping for joy when I heard the PI couple were returning in “Moonlight Mile,” coming out in paperback this week.
“Moonlight Mile” finds Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro 12 years later, married with a 4-year-old daughter named Gabriel, or Gabby for short. Angie is now a stay-at-home mom while going to school for a college degree. Patrick is still doing private investigation work, but in an on-call position for a top surveillance company.
The higher-ups keep promising him a full-time position with paid vacation and benefits but at the same time think he doesn’t have the right attitude. Patrick’s skills as an investigator are admired by them, but the powers that be think Patrick is too much of a blue-collar stiff with hard feelings about the upper crust of society and how the lower class is continuously screwed over.
The shift in the story takes place when Beatrice McCready steps back into Patrick’s life, wanting him to find Amanda, who has once again disappeared. Amanda McCready was the 4-year-old in “Gone Baby Gone” who was kidnapped. The results of the case tore Patrick and Angie’s relationship apart and haunted him for years. Now, he’s asked to find her again. Against his better judgment, but hoping to make amends, Patrick sets out to find Amanda and quickly encounters a score of others who are also after her.
The most dangerous of the people seeking Amanda is the Russian mob, which is prepared to kill Patrick and his family if he doesn’t do exactly what they say. Patrick, being Irish and tougher than he looks, basically gives them the middle finger and searches down the girl who changed his life so drastically. Of course, Patrick also has his friend, Bubba, take Gabby to her grandmother’s place in Georgia so the mob can’t get to her, but they can, and they let him know it, too.
How will Patrick deal with the mob once he locates Amanda? Why are the Russians after her? What does she have that they want? A lot of people are going to die before the last page, so be prepared.
For me, the characters came alive in a way that makes reading truly fun. They all rang true to me as living, breathing people, as did their dialogue. The questions I had about the Russian mob and why they just didn’t kill Patrick right off the bat were answered by the end of the book, and I didn’t feel cheated by the outcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects about the life Patrick and Angie now have and that they go through the same struggles as everybody else. I should point out that in many ways this book is more about Patrick Kenzie and his need for redemption than about Angie and Bubba or anyone else. I also suspect Lehane added the 4-year-old daughter to the story because he now has a child of his own and totally understands what a parent goes through, both the good and the bad.
Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.