Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Back, Baby, Back
Twelve years later, Kenzie and Gennaro are reunited and find themselves searching for the same lost girl, Amanda McCready, now 16 and a top student at her private school in spite of her mother's neglect. Gennaro is earning her college degree and Kenzie is trying to get hired by a large private investigation firm but having trouble because his tendency to speak his mind is not welcomed by the firm's leadership. They are married and have a daughter of their own.
Kenzie starts searching for Amanda because her aunt told him she hasn't been seen for two weeks. Gennaro "unretires" and joins him. Their search will take them into some of the seediest ranges of Boston's underworld and they may find that the years and the concerns surrounding their family have cost them the edge they used to have in dealing with the ruthless criminal element they're encountering again.
Since Gone came out in 1998, Lehane has seen not only it but two of his other novels hit the big screen to applause and widespread recognition: Clint Eastwood directed Mystic River in 2003 and Martin Scorsese Shutter Island in 2010. He also joined the writing staff of the award-winning HBO crime drama The Wire. And he apparently spent a lot of time watching late-season Law & Order episodes, because a number of Moonlight Mile's side plots recall some of that show's clichéd story devices. Obviously anyone with two eyes and a brain can see that when poor people and rich people have the same problems, the rich people can call on resources unavailable to poor people to either handle the problems or escape the consequences. And no small number of problems faced by poor people happen to them because they lack the power wealth provides. But not all of them, and Lehane's side journeys into some of Kenzie's other ongoing cases claim otherwise -- clumsily.
The clumsiness stands out because Moonlight Mile finds Lehane back at the scene of his best work, the series of Kenzie-Gennaro novels that first gained him recognition. Although the non-series novels he's published since that series went on hiatus after 1999's A Prayer for Rain have been generally well-received, they make it obvious that Kenzie and Gennaro are Lehane's "home-field advantage" books -- he's better there than elsewhere. Will he come back to the pair again? It's no spoiler to say that Mile makes it look otherwise and Lehane himself, when interviewed about his 2008 historical novel The Given Day, indicated he doesn't see a lot of those books left in him.
But he was apparently mistaken enough in those interviews to find Moonlight Mile, so we'll see what happens.