Book Review

Review: Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

Gone, Baby, Gone - Dennis Lehane
Gone, Baby, Gone – Dennis Lehane

In Gone, Baby, Gone, the master of the new noir, New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island), vividly captures the complex beauty and darkness of working-class Boston. A gripping, deeply evocative thriller about the devastating secrets surrounding a little girl lost, featuring the popular detective team of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, Gone, Baby, Gone was the basis for the critically acclaimed motion picture directed by Ben Affleck and starring Casey Affleck, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman.

Full disclosure: I have a real love/hate relationship with the fourth installment in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. It’s an excellent story, just like the others, but the things that happen in it make me angry because this story is that intense.

My negative feelings are probably influenced by movie, which has always bothered me. Who makes a movie out of the fourth book in a series? You can’t possibly give all of the necessary background so that’s just such a disservice to the fans. To be fair, I’m generally not a fan of any movie made from a favorite book – with the exception of Lady & The Tramp because adorable. Movies can never be as good as a book because so much is missing, even when they’re done extremely well, so I’ve never seen the critically-acclaimed film.

This story is dark and just keeps getting darker. It’s quite different from the others but this is very heavy subject matter and not for the faint of heart. A few scenes can only be described as pure nightmare fuel but it’s an excellent book I’ve read multiple times. Of note, there are major developments in the Patrick-Angie relationship but also so much more happening; This is an action-packed tale, even if some critics find it slow (I do not).

When a four year old goes missing in their neighborhood, Patrick and Angie say there’s nothing they can do that the police aren’t already doing. That’s true, but beyond that, they’ve been sticking lower-stakes cases after everything they’ve been through. These two have had enough trauma to last a lifetime and they’ve both finally come to terms with those experiences. They’re content and grateful to be happy for a change and understandably so. Why risk upsetting the balance of good in their lives, potentially sacrificing their own happiness and peace of mind?

They refuse the case and tell the girl’s aunt to save her money but the woman begs for their involvement. Amanda McCready is a quiet girl with a neglectful, addicted single mother but has a loving aunt and uncle desperate to save her. Helene McCready, Amanda’s mom, is awful in every way so this little girl’s entire life is a heartbreaking story. When the evidence suggests a connection to the Boston underworld, the MC’s have personal ties to some of the players and believe they can potentially help, so ultimately relent.

There’s a new cast of characters to meet when Angie and Patrick team up with the Boston PD detectives leading the case and quick friendships are formed. Bubba Rogowski plays an integral role in one of the most critical points of the story, which I love because Bubba is one of my all-time favorite characters. He brings some of the much-needed comic relief in this story as well, even in one of the darker moments. The depth of the characters and the complexity of their relationships are a testament to Lehane’s talents and this book is no different. There are many twists and turns here but it’s all expertly crafted.

The suspense and emotion in this story are palpable. The ending will shock some readers who never saw it coming but even if it’s not a surprise, the final moments are still extremely powerful. The line between good and evil is blurred and we once again have a case that will change them forever.

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