BOOK REVIEW: Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

Title: Live By Night
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publication: December 6, 2016 (Reprint edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Thriller and Suspense
Pages: 432

Live By Night


SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one–neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover–can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.


If Shutter Island introduced me to Dennis Lehane and The Given Day kept me interested, then Live By Night made me a lifelong fan. Brilliantly written and perfectly engaging, Live By Night is the sequel to The Given Day, a continuing story of the Coughlin family. Little brother Joe Coughlin has left behind his roots in Boston and taken his wings elsewhere. Now working his way through the ranks with the mob during Prohibition, Joe uses every wit he has to stay alive. Live By Night is at times sexy. Joe is the bad guy who you somehow can’t hate–and not only can you not hate him, but you fall for him and wish he’d take you to bed.

Live By Night gives you an inside look into Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the seedy underworld that somehow profits from it all. Dennis Lehane is a master at twists and turns and keeping you guessing throughout the story. You’re never quite sure who is the bad guy or if any good can be found in any of them. Still, despite the life of crime and the amount of bloodshed you encounter, you’ll still be left breathless at the end.

My only issue with this story was the amount of the “F” word used. While I understand that this is probably buried in truth for the life of a mobster, at times it felt overdone and even unnecessary. After a while, I started skipping over sentences because I was tired of seeing the word. It detracted from the story Lehane was trying to tell. Still, I would highly, highly recommend this book. The story as a whole makes dealing with the abundance of the “F” word worth it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

You can find your own copy of Live By Night by Dennis Lehane on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as in a book store near you. Also add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and make sure to leave feedback about your thoughts when you finish reading. You can also find more books by Dennis Lehane here!

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *