Live By Night

[Amazon Link]

This is the second entry in Dennis Lehane's series about the Boston-based Coughlin family. The first, The Given Day , was set shortly after World War I and focused on older son Danny's woes as a wannabe-honest Boston cop. This one jumps forward to the 1920s, Danny's little teenage brother, Joe, has turned into a 20-year-old criminal. Surprising behavior from someone whose father is a higher-up in the Boston Police Department, but what are you gonna do?

Joe and his misbehaving Irish buddies make the mistake of ripping off a poker game attended by underlings of the local Irish mob boss. During the theft, he meets Emma, and is immediately smitten. This sets him on a very seriously dangerous path that takes him to the Charlestown Pen, down to Florida and Cuba, and all sorts of nefarious activities. Although Joe fancies himself an "outlaw", he eventually finds himself as something he tried not to be: a gangster.

An epic book, but "only" 400 pages. A lesser writer would have gone to 800. As before, Lehane writes as if he had access to a time machine; he writes very believably about the Boston/Florida/Cuba settings.

This book was also the basis for a Ben Affleck (written, produced, directed, stars) movie that was a huge flop. I might watch it when I get the chance.