Like others, I was hooked by Lehane’s series of books featuring Kenzie and Gennaro. I liked the grittiness of them, the interplay between the two characters, and Lehane’s obvious affection for and knowledge of all of Boston.
So when he put them aside for historical fiction, I was willing to follow. I thought The Given Day was decent, but I was concerned. I thought it lacked the spark of his mystery novels. Unfortunately, I had the same experience with Live By Night. It’s like Lehane knows the formula, but can not (yet) make it his own. The dialogue is sharp, but so predictable at times that it verges on parody. The love for Boston, its people and its history is still prominent, but when the setting shifts to Tampa, Lehane’s research is much too evident.
The excerpt from the New York Times on the front is accurate. Janet Maslin writes, “You are in the hands of an expert, and you’ll know it.” Should you know it? Lehane’s hand is too obvious here. Maybe he’ll make this genre his own one day. If so, I might be convinced to try his work again. But for now, he’s off my list.