Private eye struggles to make a dark and drama-filled journey in Lehane’s ‘Moonlight Mile’

April 29, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 29, 2013

A dozen years ago, private investigator Patrick Kenzie sent Beatrice McCready’s husband to prison. Kenzie discovered that the man had kidnapped the couple’s niece, 4-year-old Amanda McCready, after being appalled by her mother’s dangerously neglectful attitude.

At the beginning of Dennis Lehane’s 2010 novel, Moonlight Mile, a nearly bankrupt Kenzie is on the brink of finding long-sought gainful employment in the midst of the Great Recession. But he puts off accepting a job offer after hearing Beatrice McCready’s desperate new plea for help locating Amanda: “You found her once. Find her again.”

Where has the 16-year-old Amanda gone and why? What happened to Sophie, her high school friend, and to Sophie’s boyfriend, both of whom are also missing? What should Kenzie think about the neglected childhood Amanda led after he restored her to the custody of her careless mother? And does this new case truly offer a shot at redemption for the awful fallout from the first time Kenzie found the missing McCready?

Lehane, the author of Mystic RiverShutter Island and The Given Day, is a master story-teller. (I’ve read the latter two of those books in addition to Moonlight Mile.) But in comparison to the other Lehane volumes I’ve consumed, this work — per, the sixth featuring Kenzie and his partner-turned-wife, the former Angie Gennaro — is a bit of potboiler.

Still, Moonlight Mile is a solid and compelling detective story, with punchy but realistic dialogue, sharply drawn characters and an intriguing plot. Most any lover of mysteries should enjoy this novel, and I will gladly be reading more of Lehane’s work.

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