Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Today: The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

The author of Mystic River and Shutter Island pushes still further from his crime fiction roots with The Given Day (William Morrow), an epic look at the politics and morality of America after the First World War through the lens of the events leading to the Boston police strike of 1919. If that sounds like a departure for Dennis Lehane, think again: this is an author whose impressive career thus far has been built on stark departures.

That career also seems to be being built on ever more ambitious projects. Lehane began with a series of well-loved mysteries that started with 1994’s A Drink Before the War and featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Lehane’s first novel outside of that series, Mystic River, was initially met with some boos from his die-hardest fans who missed his series characters. However, if they complained for long, we couldn’t hear them: kudos for Mystic River came fast and furious and followed the book right to the silver screen where it earned all concerned wide acclaim.

The Given Day would seem to fit with the pattern Lehane is establishing: always better books. Bigger. More nuanced. More challenging -- for him and for us. The Given Day left this reader gasping… and wondering: what on earth could Lehane be planning for us next?



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