Review: World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

world-gone-byI have to admit I was a little thrown by Dennis Lehane’s last book in the Coughlin series, Live By Night. The Given Day is Lehane’s best book and when he wrote it  he said it was the first in a series which would follow multi-generations of a police family through Boston in the 20th century. Live By Night took a u-turn and instead followed one of the Coughlin clan as he became an outlaw, a bootlegger and eventually a gangster. It was a great read and Lehane ended up becoming a consultant on Boardwalk Empire because of it…but it wasn’t the book I was expecting.

This time around I was ready for gangster territory, this time post-Prohibition and the world at war (a great fit now Boardwalk Empire has finished). Joe Coughlin, at the ripe old age of 37, is now the elder statesmen of the Tampa mob. Following the events at the end of Live By Night he no longer runs the show. He has many legitimate businesses and keeps the odd toe in a few illegitimate ones. But his soul focus is now his son. He knows he can never escape the life he has built but he canshelter his son from it. Or at least try. But there is no retiring from Joe’s business and there are always others waiting in the wings, even when there is a war on. When Joe gets word somebody wants him out of the way he can’t for the life of himself figure out why. Out of the way of what?

Lehane brings 1940s Florida to vivid and sweltering life. Boston maybe his literary stomping ground but he shows he can bring all those same skills to wherever he wants. He also returns to the themes he started in The Given Day; fathers and sons. As always with Lehane this is tightly plotted that builds to a blockbuster ending. And you know we haven’t finished with Coughlin Clan yet. And we may even be back onto the original track…

Buy the book here…

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Jon Page

Jon Page is a bookseller and author of the Bite the Book Blog.