A stand-alone sequel – “Moonlight Mile” by Dennis Lehane
I didn’t realize this (apparently I ignored the back cover) until I was a few pages into reading the book. Yet my enjoyment of the book was in no way lessened by not having read it’s prequel.
However, in order for me to talk about this sequel I do have to massively spoil the ending of the original novel, so be warned if you read beyond this point.
Lehane’s original 1998 novel, “Gone, Baby, Gone,” details two private investigators – Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro – as they search for a missing four year old girl named Amanda.
(Recently, it was turned into a film starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman, which was directed by Ben Affleck. The film got great reviews, and even racked up an Oscar nomination for Amy Ryan, who played the hardened mother of the missing girl.)
In “Moonlight Mile,” it’s been twelve years since Patrick and Angela found little Amanda and returned her to her parents, which wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The result of the case left Patrick with lingering doubts and guilt. Amanda had actually been kidnapped by her uncle, who was attempting to rescue her from her disaster of a mother and the seedy lifestyle she was raising the child in. Amanda had been placed with a nice, stable, childless couple, and her life with them would have actually been great. Instead, she was returned to an unsafe lifestyle, and the nice loving couple went to jail.
Patrick, looking back, sums it up: “It was one of the more cutting ironies of the Amanda McCready case that I’d liked the bad guys a hell of a lot more than the good ones.”
Now, Amanda is sixteen, and has vanished again. Her estranged Aunt has called upon the two investigators (now married with their own precocious chatterbox of a child) to bring her home once again. Against his better judgment, Patrick finds himself back on the case – and Angela, unable to resist, jumps aboard the crazy train as well.
From there, everything goes to hell – There are Russian gangsters, stolen babies, an ancient cross, and no one is as innocent as they seem. (There’s also a wonderful section where Patrick interviews Amanda’s school mates. The dialogue, peppered with “likes” and other today-teen twitches, is spot on and mind-numbing in it’s perfection. Really, nothing is scarier than a teenage girl.)
Nothing is black and white – or easy.
The book crackles with jaunty dialogue, and fast-paced twists and turns. Patrick and Angela are a sexy and smart couple you follow happily through their adventures. You can tell Lehane has great affection for the duo, and it radiates from the pages. I couldn’t put this book down, and that’s saying something considering it was a sequel to a book I’ve never read and honestly had no interest in reading. Now, I think my eyes have been opened to a great writer, and I’m going to have to read “Gone, Baby, Gone.”
“There’s a wonderful video of Lehane talking about the book and his influences on his site.
“Moonlight Mile” is in stores now, and would make a great gift for that special crime-novel-reader in your life. Or just anyone with an appreciation for well-crafted storytelling.