Sacred - Dennis Lehane
Book Review, Mystery, Series, Suspense

Book Review: Sacred by Dennis Lehane

A beautiful, grief-stricken woman has vanished without a trace. So has the detective hired to find her. And a lot of money . . .

Enter tough-nosed private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. Rooted in the streets of blue-collar Dorchester, they’ve seen it all – and survived. But this case leads them into unexpected territory: a place of lies and corruption, where trusting anyone could get them killed, and where nothing is sacred.

Another superior thriller from Dennis Lehane, the bestselling and acclaimed author of Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone; and Shutter Island.

The third installment in the Kenzie and Gennaro series is sometimes criticized. Some feel the story’s less-engaging than the previous books, but I have no complaints. It’s certainly different from the others, but that’s not a bad thing. The story starts out with a couple of awkward strangers following our heroes. They jokingly refer to their shadows as Lurch and the weeble but it’s no longer funny once they kidnap Patrick and Angie.

The agency’s been closed since the disasters of the previous book took place. They’ve been turning cases away and refusing work but a dying billionaire is desperate to find his missing daughter and willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Trevor Stone wants the best so he hired Patrick’s mentor, Jay Becker to find Desiree. There was tangible progress initially, then Jay too disappeared without a trace.

Patrick and Angie had no interest in working anyway but the kidnapping part really gets under their skin so the duo isn’t at all amenable to working for Trevor. His offer of a generous retainer and immense expense account certainly give them pause but it’s his suffering that ultimately speaks to them. Trevor’s wife recently died in a car accident and his devastated daughter soon lost her boyfriend as well.

The once lively and colorful Desiree Stone collapsed under the weight of her grief, becoming a shell of herself and eventually fading away completely. Jay Becker tracked her to a weird cult posing as a grief counseling service where she became involved with one of the leaders, then he followed them to Florida before vanishing himself.

Trevor has only months to live so he’ll do anything to ensure his daughter’s safety and security before he passes. The depth of his grief for his wife, his daughter’s suffering and his own death sentence is palpable. He relays the torment Desiree experienced and our heroes feel a kinship. They know how the Stone family’s loss must feel and struggle with survivor guilt of their own, especially Angie. This is an opportunity to heal by helping others who are mired even further in grief than themselves, plus they want to find Jay.

The interaction with the cult is particularly entertaining, as it seems to be a riff on scientology. Although it may appear to be satire, based on the rumors, it’s pretty accurate. But dealing with the culties isn’t all fun and games because they have a lot of assets and power to protect. They’re dangerous and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Working again seems to agree with them and the warm Florida sun certainly doesn’t hurt but the case just gets stranger the deeper they go. We see a budding relationship between Patrick and Angie but the ups and downs Lehane throws out make it hard to relax. I was certain he was going to pull that rug from under me at any moment. For some time now, I’d wanted to see them get together but that seems way too happily ever after to happen in this series. These two are joined by so much more than their lifelong friendship and so many shared experiences because the things that have happened in the last year have transformed them immensely, pushing them together even more.

It’s not always immediately clear who the enemy is here and that’s one of the things that makes this a great story. Sacred isn’t as heavy as its predecessor and there’s more comic relief. There are still dark aspects but nothing even comes close to Darkness, Take My Hand so it allowed me to let my guard down after the incredible tension of their last adventure and enjoy this one more fully. As always, the characters continue to evolve and impress, which just whets my appetite for the next one.

Sacred on Amazon.

Links to reviews for the entire Kenzie and Gennaro series

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