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


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

30 review for Live by Night

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    The opening scene of Dennis Lehane’s Prohibition gangster tale, Live by Night has our hero, Joe Coughlin, on a tugboat, in the Gulf of Mexico, fitted for a nice set of cement footwear, while a dozen or so of his least favorite people prepare to help him into a final swim. It is from this moment that we look back over the years to 1926 to find out how Joe came to be in such peril. The first thing we see is Joe and two other petty crooks robbing a speakeasy owned by a Boston gangster. During the c The opening scene of Dennis Lehane’s Prohibition gangster tale, Live by Night has our hero, Joe Coughlin, on a tugboat, in the Gulf of Mexico, fitted for a nice set of cement footwear, while a dozen or so of his least favorite people prepare to help him into a final swim. It is from this moment that we look back over the years to 1926 to find out how Joe came to be in such peril. The first thing we see is Joe and two other petty crooks robbing a speakeasy owned by a Boston gangster. During the course of the event a masked Joe meets Emma Gould in a scene that might someday define the career of some rising young actress. The Bartolo brothers relieved the card players of their weapons. The pistols made heavy thumps as they tossed them onto a nearby blackjack table, but the girl didn’t even flinch. In her eyes, firelights danced behind the gray. She stepped right up to his gun and said,” And what will the gentleman be having with his robbery this morning?”With images of young Lauren Bacall as the femme fatale dancing in my head, and only on page 5, I was totally hooked! The book is a sequel of sorts to Lehane’s ambitious The Given Day, in which the name Coughlin also figured large, but there is no need to read the earlier work to appreciate this one. Lehane wanted to write a novel that echoed the mobster movies he grew up with.I’ve always absolutely loved the time period. It’s probably my favorite time period in American history. Anything between the two world wars, the clothes, and the cars, and tommyguns. Maybe it was too much exposure to 1920s,1930s gangster movies when I was a kid… It was certainly interesting to me to see the seeds and the growth of what we understand now as the Mafia. This was seen as the end of the independent operator decade. This was fun to look at.But he ran into a bit of interference after having written a few chapters. Boardwalk Empire machine-gunned onto the scene and that meant Lehane would have to focus on something other than whiskey as his substance Maguffin. Splitting his residence between Boston and Tampa, he had already become familiar with Ybor City, a part of Tampa which was a major entry point for prohibition era rum. The over-the-head lightbulb clicked on and it was off to the races. Rum instead of whiskey. And structurally, he decided to trace a reverse route. The rum entered through Florida and worked its way north. Joe Coughlin begins up north and heads south. Lehane found the era appealing for another reason. I mean everybody smoked and didn’t know it was bad for them. And it was a time where, I think, there was some sort of ignorance is bliss. You also had a time in which the entire country turned against the law of the land which had to make it fun. Think about how much fun it was to contact a friend and say we’re meeting at the speakeasy tonight. Here’s the password.Young Joe lands in a Boston jail, where he is befriended by a powerful mob boss, Thomaso Pescatore. Maso wants to leverage his access to Joe to get his dad, Thomas, Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Police, to take care of some things for him. Otherwise, well, he could not guarantee Joe’s safety. Joe becomes a Maso loyalist, demonstrates his value to this new boss and winds up being put in charge of Maso’s crime operation in Ybor City, Florida. That is where the bulk of the story takes place. This is not some mindless good-guys vs bad-guys shoot-em-up. Lehane is a serious writer and there are larger issues under his microscope here. One is the impact of parents, fathers in particular on their children. Despite his calm demeanor and tasteful trappings, Joe’s father, Thomas, is no paragon of virtue. While he may decry his youngest son’s path it is clear that the rotten apple has not fallen far from a rotten tree. Later in the novel a gangster of some perception and skill presents a son who has inherited all dad’s worst qualities, and none of his better ones. Joe must confront his own feelings about parenthood when he becomes a father. (this will no doubt be addressed in depth in Lehane’s next novel, which will feature Joe and his son in the 1940s) And the sins of another father are visited on his child in horrible ways. A closely related theme is the karma of violence What I have learned is that violence procreates. And the children your violence produces will return to you as savage, mindless things. You won’t recognize them as yours, but they’ll recognize you. They’ll mark you as deserving of their punishment.Lehane offers some thematic touchstones along the way. Thomas gives Joe a watch that has special meaning for him. It plays a role in saving Joe’s life, but also serves as a symbol for Joe eventually running out of time. A similar item is the appearance of a Florida panther, which may or may not actually be present at times, and is certainly a phantom at others, carrying concern about mortality. Joe struggles with his belief system. He is not a stone cold killer, which puts him at a disadvantage with the company he keeps. He feared this was all there was. Didn’t just fear it. Sitting in that ridiculous chair looking out the window at the yellow windows canted in the black water, he knew it. You didn’t die and go to a better place; this was the better place because you weren’t dead. Heaven wasn’t in the clouds; it was the air in your lungs.He inquires into the beliefs others have about a life beyond during his journey, and also wonders what might take his place if it turns out there is no god.“We’re not bad. Maybe we’re not good. I dunno. I just know we’re all scared.” “Who’s scared?” she said. “Who isn’t? The whole world. We tell ourselves we believe in this god or that god, this afterlife or that one, and maybe we do, but what we’re all thinking at the same time is, “What if we’re wrong? What if this is it? Well if it is, shit, I better get me a real big house and a real big car and a whole bunch of nice tie pins and pearl-handled walking stick and a—“ She was laughing now. “—a toilet that washes my ass and my armpits. Because I need one of those.’” He’d been chuckling too, but the chuckles trailed off into the suds. “’but, wait, I believe in God. Just to be safe. But I believe in greed, too. Just to be safe.’”America has a love-hate relationship with gangsters. On the one hand, we find appealing the image of the slick criminal getting over on, say, bankers. We see them not so much as bleak, soulless, bloody monsters but as outlaws. Joe struggles with the difference between being an outlaw, a romantic self-image, and a gangster, which, to Joe, is an acceptance that he is not a decent person after all. Another notion, about types of criminality, that comes into play a time or three has just a touch of contemporary resonance. “You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy’s leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think there’s a difference, like the banker’s just doing his job but the loan shark’s a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I’m sitting now. I’m not going to live some life where I pay my fucking taxes and fetch the boss a lemonade at the company picnic and buy life insurance. Get older, get fatter, so I can join a men’s club in Back Bay, smoke cigars with a bunch of assholes in a back room somewhere, talk about my squash game and my kid’s grades. Die at my desk, and they’ll already have scraped my name off the office door before the dirt’s hit the coffin” “But that’s life,” Danny said “That’s a life. You want to play by their rules? Go ahead. But I say their rules are bullshit. I say there are no rules but the ones a man makes for himself.” This view is reinforced in a conversation Joe has with a business partner.“We’re not our brother’s keeper, Joseph. In fact, it’s an insult to our brother to presume he can’t take care of himself.” This could be a bit of Ayn Rand pillow whisperings or a 2012 GOP talking point. Later, Joe is planning a gambling empire and notes again that criminality comes in various forms.what he saw, clearer than any clear he’d ever known, was that the rich would come in here for the dazzle and the elegance and the chance to risk it all against a rigged game, as rigged as the one they’d been running on the poor for centuries.Another passage made me think of the banality of evil in Nazi Germany.Joe was reminded, not for the first time, that for such a violent business, it was filled with a surprising number of regular guys—men who loved their wives, who took their children on Saturday afternoon outings, men who worked on their automobiles and told jokes at the neighborhood lunch counter and worried what their mothers thought of them and went to Church to ask god’s forgiveness for all the terrible things they had to render unto Caesar in order to put food on the table.In fact, one of the things I loved about this book is how many times a line or a passage summoned broader notions, or the scent of other classics. Here are a few: Working class men had sons. Successful men had heirs. We all believe lies that bring us more comfort than the truth. She had that light about her that turned people into moths I’ve got nothing against noble people, I’ve just noticed they rarely live past forty.” “Achievement? Depends on luck—to be born in the right place at the right time and be of the right color. To live long enough to be in the right place at the right time to make one’s fortune. Yes, yes, hard work and talent make up the difference. They are crucial, and you know I’d never argue different. But the foundation of all lives is luck. Good or bad. Luck is life and life is luck. And it’s leaking from the moment it lands in your hand.The Live by Night motif can be taken a few ways, as living outside the law, as living freely, as in surviving in an id-rich world, on the edge. When Joe was a young crook his boss would say to him. “The people we service? They visit the night. But we live in it. They rent what we own.” In a concrete sense, living by night means criminality, but it could also imply a more generic sense of extremity. But what drives someone to such extremes? And how do the stories we tell about ourselves affect who we are? Something was getting lost in them, something that was starting to live by day, where the swells lived, where the insurance salesmen and the bankers lived, where the civic meetings were held and the little flags were waved at the Main Street parades, where you sold out the truth of yourself for the story of yourself. …the reality was, he liked the story of himself. Liked it better than the truth of himself. In the truth of himself, he was second class and grubby and always out of step. He still had his Boston accent and didn’t know how to dress right, and he thought too many thoughts that most people would find “funny.” The truth of himself was a scared little boy, mislaid by his parents like reading glasses on a Sunday afternoon, treated to random kindnesses by older brothers who came without notice and departed without warning. The truth of himself was a lonely boy in an empty house, waiting or someone to knock on his bedroom door and ask if he was ok. The story of himself, on the other hand, was of a gangster prince. A man who had a full-time driver and bodyguard. A man of wealth and stature. A man for whom people abandoned their seats simply because he coveted themMaybe living by night is being in the dream instead of the reality. But for all his serious flaws, I found it was possible to relate to Joe, to root for him, even. And Lehane has populated his tale with a colorful array of supporting characters, in varying shades. There is not a lot here by way of damsels in distress. Lehane’s women are not exactly blushing flowers. From the iron-nerved Emma, to a wildly successful evangelical preacher, Loretta, to the elegant Graciela, the women are rich presences in the story. This is a result of the presence in Lehanes’s life, he says, of plenty of very tough women when he was growing up. On a gut level, it felt to me that a bit of Casablanca DNA seems to run through this story. In this world of low expectations, we can feel some empathy for Joe because he is no sociopath, even though he swims in a shiver of sharks. No, Joe is no Rick, and Emma and Loretta are no freedom fighters, (Graciela actually may be) but having established his dark roots, there is a feeling of potential for hope, for redemption, for maybe a chance to live by day, a desire to do the right thing, that gives the story poignancy. All the great lines certainly helped. I cannot think of a book I have read in recent memory that offered up so many. Ben Affleck is already in negotiations to write, direct and star in the movie. I am not sure I see him in this role, but this could be the beginning of a beautiful film. So tip back on your panama hat, make sure the ceiling fan is spinning fast enough to cool your sweat before it plunges under your collar, check that the safety for that piece under your jacket is switched on, light up one of those very special Cubans, hoist your Bacardi cocktail and settle back. You're in for a steamin’ good time. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages Other books in the Coughlin series -----The Given Day -----World Gone By The Harper Collins reading group guide and no, I did not look at this before setting fingers to keyboard. Steve Inskeep (who is usually insufferable) did a nice interview with Lehane on NPR’s Morning Edition. This is the source of the Lehane quotes at the top of the review. Janet Maslin’s sterling NY Times review “His Days of Crime May End Real Soon” May 2, 2013 - Live by Night wins the Edgar Award for best novel

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    "This writer's got this"...It's nice as a reader when you realize that and can sit back and enjoy the story. Dennis Lehane is a writer who will put you in that easychair. Live by Night was my first Lehane and midway through the first chapter I knew I was in safe hands. His writing flows, it touches on all the plot's necessary points and no more. Scenes breathe, characters grow, and the story seldom slows down. This may not be a 5-star book for everyone. I'm giving it an extra bump up for the cont "This writer's got this"...It's nice as a reader when you realize that and can sit back and enjoy the story. Dennis Lehane is a writer who will put you in that easychair. Live by Night was my first Lehane and midway through the first chapter I knew I was in safe hands. His writing flows, it touches on all the plot's necessary points and no more. Scenes breathe, characters grow, and the story seldom slows down. This may not be a 5-star book for everyone. I'm giving it an extra bump up for the content. Part of it's about Boston gangsters during the 1920s prohibition days. Right up my alley! I was born and raised right outside of Boston and I'm a big fan of gangster lore. Live by Night marries two of my favorite things! The story follows small-time criminal Joe Coughlin from a speakeasy heist to his career as a regional mob boss. It takes us from Boston down to Tampa, Florida and ropes in Cuba to boot. That last part really reminded me of The Godfather. I'm not saying Lehane copies Coppola. Mobsters from the Northeast U.S. historically migrated to Cuba. It was a natural progression. Lehane does a fantastic job with the period details, tastefully inserting real figures-of-the-day like Lucky Luciano and creating a marvelous historical fiction. It's been a long time since I've been able to say this, but I'm really excited to read more from this author!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    I think Dennis Lehane may be a big fan of Boardwalk Empire based on this book. In the mid-1920s, Joe Coughlin is a young man who has turned against his upbringing as the son of a legendary Boston police captain. Joe works for a local gangster and does the occasional robbery on the side. When he falls for the mistress of a rival to his boss, trouble follows, and Joe’s criminal career takes a turn that eventually finds him setting up a huge bootlegging operation in Tampa. This is an indirect sequel I think Dennis Lehane may be a big fan of Boardwalk Empire based on this book. In the mid-1920s, Joe Coughlin is a young man who has turned against his upbringing as the son of a legendary Boston police captain. Joe works for a local gangster and does the occasional robbery on the side. When he falls for the mistress of a rival to his boss, trouble follows, and Joe’s criminal career takes a turn that eventually finds him setting up a huge bootlegging operation in Tampa. This is an indirect sequel to The Given Day in which Joe was a child and the action centered on his older brother. That book had larger social themes that concerned issues about worker’s rights and racism after World War I. Live By Night is a more personal story about one man’s life outside the normal rules of society. (You don’t have to read the first book before this one, but it would add a layer of understanding to Joe’s history and motivations if you did.) Lehane’s stories are often about legacies of violence and this one falls squarely into that category. Joe isn’t a traditional bad guy. He starts out thinking of himself as an outlaw, not a gangster, because he dislikes the prudish and hypocritical nature of the respected types who make the rules. However, by living outside the law means living with criminals, and Joe is constantly pushed into ever more violent actions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    Little Joe Coughlin was only a bit player in The Given Day, but here he gets an entire novel all to himself. It's not necessary to have read The Given Day first. Live By Night makes a fine stand-alone novel. If you have read The Given Day, it will give you some understanding as to why Joe has chosen a career as a criminal. He was the neglected, often invisible youngest son. He observed how his father and brothers worked hard and lived within the law, and they were not rewarded for their pains. S Little Joe Coughlin was only a bit player in The Given Day, but here he gets an entire novel all to himself. It's not necessary to have read The Given Day first. Live By Night makes a fine stand-alone novel. If you have read The Given Day, it will give you some understanding as to why Joe has chosen a career as a criminal. He was the neglected, often invisible youngest son. He observed how his father and brothers worked hard and lived within the law, and they were not rewarded for their pains. So he turned against the law and lives by the rules of the night. The Given Day ends a few days before the enforcement of Prohibition will begin. Live By Night picks up about seven years later, in 1926. Joe Coughlin is already deeply entrenched in the life of an outlaw. A bank robbery gone bad leaves him on the lam, and things go downhill from there. Joe does some time in prison, where he learns how to be an even better hoodlum. When he is released, he needs to be far away from his enemies in Boston. He goes to Tampa, Florida and works for a mobster operation that runs all up and down the East Coast. Florida is where the bulk of the novel takes place, specifically in Ybor City, where the various dark-skinned peoples dwell. Here we see how Joe has turned against his father's prejudices, choosing the company of Cubans and mixed-race people. There's not really a lot to analyze here in terms of our heroes and villains. Live By Night is essentially just a literary gangster novel. Its historical significance lies in showing the folly of Prohibition. All it did was breed vice and prevent regulation. It encouraged the formation of a new underground economy which became so powerful and well connected that it branched out into even more violent and profitable enterprises. I suppose I'll be in the minority, but I liked this one better than The Given Day. Live by Night covers a much longer stretch of time in fewer pages and moves along at a nice clip. It takes us up to the end of Prohibition and beyond. The dialogue is especially brilliant. It reveals the "bad guys" in all their complexity, whether fearful or conflicted or tender, and they're often very intelligent. They're not just dumb thugs with big guns and stock phrases like "Go for your heater." There were a couple of things that kept the book out of the five-star category for me. The first thing is the seven-year gap between the end of The Given Day and the start of Live By Night. We're given very little information about what happened in the interim. The second weakness is the way Joe's story ends. There's one major event that seems inevitable, and you can see it coming. When it does happen, the scene is clumsy -- more staged than realistic -- and it doesn't evoke the deep feeling it should. The aftermath of that event is rushed, and the close of the story isn't conclusive enough to be satisfying without a promise of more to come.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    "I don't understand," Danny said softly. "I know you don't," Joe said. "You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy's leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think there's a difference, like the banker's just doing his job but the loan shark's a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn't pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I'm sitting ri "I don't understand," Danny said softly. "I know you don't," Joe said. "You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy's leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think there's a difference, like the banker's just doing his job but the loan shark's a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn't pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I'm sitting right now. I'm not going to live some life where I pay my fucking taxes and fetch the boss a lemonade at the company picnic and buy life insurance. Get older, get fatter, so I can join a men's club in Back Bay, smoke cigars with a bunch of assholes in a back room somewhere, talk about my squash game and my kid's grades. Die at my desk, and they'll already have scraped my name off the office door before the dirt's hit the coffin." "But that's life," Danny said. "That's A life. You want to play by their rules? Go ahead. But I say their rules are bullshit. I say there are no rules but the ones a man makes for himself." Little Joe Coughlin is all grown-up in this sequel to The Given Day. He has grown up to become a criminal. He calls himself an outlaw, but everyone else calls him a gangster. In Prohibition America, it's a good time to be a rum-runner. You've got everything in here: love, sex, murder, back-stabbing, double-crossing, betrayal, despair, hope, and lots and lots of money. Lehane is a great writer. I mean, I'm not going to screw around and try to pretend that Lehane is anything less than a great writer. Sometimes you see this in his long passages: (view spoiler)[ ...and he wondered what his father could see right now and what Emma could see. Could they see him? Could they see the past and the future or vast worlds far beyond his imaginings? Or could they see nothing? Because they were nothing. They were dead, they were dust, bones in a box and Emma's not even attached. He feared this was all there was. Didn't just fear it. Sitting in that ridiculous chair, looking out the window at the yellow windows canted in the black water, he knew it. You didn't die and go to a better place; this was the better place because you weren't dead. Heaven wasn't in the clouds; it was the air in your lungs. (hide spoiler)] Sometimes he hits you with little short passages: The sun flung itself against the windshield and breathed fire through the glass. Either way, what I'm saying is that I am not debating Lehane's status as a master of his craft. But I do want to address some things. One, if you want to write romance or erotica, just do it. There ain't no shame in it! Lehane is joining my ever growing list of male authors who on some level desperately want to write romance novels or perhaps erotica novellas, but can't bring themselves to do it. (Paolo Bacigalupi is another one.) A woman had been serving drinks to the table. She put the tray aside, lifted her cigarette out of an ashtray and took a drag, looked about to yawn with three guns pointed at her. Like she might ask to see something more impressive for an encore. The entire first part of the novel, in which Joe holds up a poker game and meets a firebrand of a woman, is like reading an erotica in itself. Joe said, "Everyone but the girl, get on your knees."... He took the sack and dangled the set of cuffs from his finger. "Turn around." "Yes, sir. Right away, sir." She turned her back to him and crossed her arms behind her. Her knuckles pressed against the small of her back, the fingertips dangling over her ass, Joe realizing the last thing he should be doing was concentrating on anyone's ass, period. He snapped the first cuff around her wrist. "I'll be gentle." "Don't put yourself out on my account." She looked back over her shoulder at him. "Just try not to leave marks." Jesus. "What's your name?" "Emma Gould," she said. "What's yours?" "Wanted." "By all the girls or just the law?" I mean, sheesh. I'm not complaining, but considering the way the rest of the novel goes, I can tell Mr. Lehane has a lot to say on the topics of romance and sex and I want to inform him that if he wants to stretch his legs a bit in a less confining space than historical fiction, the gates of romance and erotica are wide open to him. :) When Joe tracks her down to a bar weeks later, "If I tug this earlobe? You won't make the stairs." He looked at the earlobe she'd indicated with a flick of her pale eyes. The right one. It looked like a chickpea, but softer. He wondered what it would taste like first thing in the morning. There's a really adorable part later in the book where Joe teaches himself how to give his woman oral sex and it's very cute and sweet. His insistence on eating her out five times a day is what eventually leads her to admit that she's in love with him, which is highly probable and realistic in this reader's opinion, LOL. Lehane should start penning romantic fiction as soon as is physically possible, IMO. Lehane also uses the historical context to examine racism a lot, as he did in The Given Day. Albert leaned into Joe. He looked around them. "I don't want this. Who wants THIS? I just want to feel like I felt when I made her laugh of when she threw an ashtray at my head. I don't even care about the fucking, I just want to watch her drink coffee in a hotel bathrobe. You HAVE that, I hear. With the spic woman?" "Yeah," Joe said, "I do." "What is she by the way? Nigger or spic?" "Both," said Joe. "And that doesn't bother you?" "Albert," Joe said, "why on earth would that bother me?" Joe is not exactly a "good guy," but he's pretty good for a mob boss. And we know that because he loves and respects his women, he isn't a racist, and he doesn't murder innocents. He'd killed for this woman. Killed for himself too. But if there was one question he hadn't been able to answer all day, it was why he'd shot the sailor in the face. You didn't do that to a man unless you were angry. You shot him in the chest. But Joe had blown his face up. That was personal. And that, he realized as he lost himself in the sway of her, was because he'd seen clearly in the sailor's eyes that the man held Graciela in contempt. Because she was brown, raping her wasn't a sin; it was just indulging in the spoils of war. Whether she'd been alive or dead when he did it would have made little difference to Cyrus. Joe is very attracted to strong, hard women. I rather enjoyed the relationships he had in this book. It's strange (or perhaps not so strange) that Joe adores dangerous, kickass women when his own mother was such a chickenshit coward. From Emma, who gets sexually excited from him pulling a gun on her, to Graciela - a spitfire Cuban revolutionary who knows her way around guns and bombs, Joe always admires and lusts after and eventually loves the most strong-headed, dangerous, and forceful women he can find. I thought this was very realistic and never questioned why Joe was falling in love with whomever he was falling in love with at the time. Lehane NEVER made me beat my head against a wall questioning WHY Joe was being such an idiot and questioning his good sense and/or his taste in women. Another reason Lehane should go into romance novels, IMO. That being said, there are missteps occasionally: At the bar, Joe sat down at the end closest to the door, where a woman with fat that hung off her arms like pregnant bellies... Lehane is either ignorant of women's arm fat or he's ignorant of what pregnant bellies are like because these two things are COMPLETELY different. But laughable lines like this are rare. Another problem I have with Lehane is the same problem I end up having with another excellent author, Joe Abercrombie, which is that both men are convinced that the world is populated with pieces of shit instead of human beings. Both men have a rather dark and grim view of life and humanity, which - true or not - is not something I enjoy in my fiction. Bad things are going to happen in Lehane's books. Very bad things. Now, whether you are okay with this or not is up to you. Obviously, I finished it, which tells you that there is no graphic on-page rape or graphic on-page torture in this (plenty off-page, though), but don't think that means this book isn't grim. It's grim. And unlike his first book in this trilogy, The Given Day, this doesn't leave us on a hopeful note. Therefore I cannot give it the five stars that Lehane's writing deserves from a technical standpoint. I'm not into grim. Tl;dr - I would treat you to more beautiful writing, but I don't want to spoil you on any key plot points. I just want to let you know that this is an excellent book. Playing masterfully on very dark themes, Lehane brings alive Boston 1926-1929, Florida 1929- 1933, and Cuba 1934 - 1935. It's wonderful, it's vivid, and Lehane's talents are in full-force here. He doesn't turn away from the darkness of criminal life, however, so proceed with caution. Highly recommended after you've finished The Given Day. This IS a sequel, I would advise reading and enjoying the amazing The Given Day first.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Well, it started out very nice but it felt like Lehane gave up 2/3 through. And then the wrap up was very weak. I saw it immediately and it was so disappointing. If you notice I have given nothing of the story away, I'm speaking of style and development. The story had it's moments that were very delightful but they fell short with lack of believability (I hate it when that happens!). The character development I've grown accustomed to Dennis Lehane novels was only half way there (so maybe my expe Well, it started out very nice but it felt like Lehane gave up 2/3 through. And then the wrap up was very weak. I saw it immediately and it was so disappointing. If you notice I have given nothing of the story away, I'm speaking of style and development. The story had it's moments that were very delightful but they fell short with lack of believability (I hate it when that happens!). The character development I've grown accustomed to Dennis Lehane novels was only half way there (so maybe my expectations were too high). Still, it was a good enough read, I would give 3.5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    LIVE BY NIGHT was the first Lehane book I've read and it won't be the last. This book almost reads like historical fiction. Excellent characters and a very engaging story. Great novel. LIVE BY NIGHT was the first Lehane book I've read and it won't be the last. This book almost reads like historical fiction. Excellent characters and a very engaging story. Great novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Baba

    Coughlin book No. 2. The youngest of the Coughlin brothers makes a life in the world of organised crime in Tampa and Cuba - but this is in the days, when no one can make any real big moves without gaining interest from the Klu Klax Klan and the... American Italian... Mafia! This second book in this astounding historical organised crime drama straddles the genres of the historical drama focused The Given Day and the all-out crime drama World Gone, and as a result leaves it a bit short for both gen Coughlin book No. 2. The youngest of the Coughlin brothers makes a life in the world of organised crime in Tampa and Cuba - but this is in the days, when no one can make any real big moves without gaining interest from the Klu Klax Klan and the... American Italian... Mafia! This second book in this astounding historical organised crime drama straddles the genres of the historical drama focused The Given Day and the all-out crime drama World Gone, and as a result leaves it a bit short for both genres, but is still a very good 1930s organised crime in Tampa tale. 8 out of 12.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    When Joe Coughlin was starting out in the crime business, his boss would say to him. “The people we service? They visit the night. But we live in it. They rent what we own.” Live by Night is the second book in Dennis Lehane’s historical fiction Coughlin trilogy. While not nearly as commanding as his first, The Given Day, it still packs a punch. Many, many punches. And shots. And other things that go bump in the night. In The Given Day, Joe is just a minor character, a boy in the shadow of his old When Joe Coughlin was starting out in the crime business, his boss would say to him. “The people we service? They visit the night. But we live in it. They rent what we own.” Live by Night is the second book in Dennis Lehane’s historical fiction Coughlin trilogy. While not nearly as commanding as his first, The Given Day, it still packs a punch. Many, many punches. And shots. And other things that go bump in the night. In The Given Day, Joe is just a minor character, a boy in the shadow of his older brothers Aiden (“Danny”) and Connor. Their father is Thomas Coughlin, one of Boston’s most powerful police captains. Like father, like son? Not exactly, unless you consider the senior Coughlin’s propensity for graft and corruption. Joe starts out small, and by the time he’s twenty-three, he’s doing time for his part in a robbery gone sour. Prison is every bit as bad as it’s rumored to be, and Joe finds himself under the protective wing of mob boss Maso Pescatore. The Given Day features Danny, the cop and union vice president. Live By Night is Joe’s story. This is a gangster story. It’s the twenties and early thirties, the era of Prohibition, rum-running, speakeasies. Mobsters carry guns openly on the streets. The KKK runs rampant in the South. Lawmen can be bought. This is also a story of contrasts. Rich and poor. Love and hate. Respect and contempt. Joe embodies these dichotomies. He falls in love with a black cigar factory worker who is active in the Cuban resistance movement. He has a love-hate relationship with his father, a man whom he considers to be fraudulent and hypocritical, yet he carries his father’s watch with him when he is released from prison. He earns respect as a gangster, yet he has contempt for his bosses, and at times, for the life he himself leads. There is symbolism too. The watch, as I mentioned, represents not only time, of course, but his ties to his father. As the watch loses time, is Joe running out of time? There is an instance where it saves his life. He’s had a tremendous run of good luck. When will it end? Then there’s the daunting image of the panther, ever-present danger and a reminder of his mortality. Also, Lehane raises recurring themes and questions for Joe and the reader to ponder. What of faith? Does God exist, or is an afterlife merely a dream or a hope? Can bad people do good deeds? There are issues of racism, classism, xenophobia – and this is why I found Joe Coughlin to be someone to root for – because despite the terrible things he does, he still does not discriminate against Cubans or Spaniards or Italians or blacks. He seems unsure of what to call himself. An outlaw? A gangster? Is he capable of being anything else? An honest man, for instance? He is an enigma, because he is tremendously loyal to those he truly cares about, and he has a good heart. When told to kill for killing’s sake, he has a conscience. I found Joe and Graciela to be a fascinating combination, and I think that she makes him a better person. Is it redemption he seeks? He hopes there is a God, he says, but if there is not, then Graciela is enough. Despite being much shorter than the first book, I found that this one slowed down in parts, particularly in the middle. The ending, although not a total surprise, felt hurried. It makes it difficult for me to rate this one. As I’ve had time to think more about it, I think I liked it better than I first realized. Dennis Lehane can write, and he can tell a good story. I’m looking forward to the next one. 4 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    Live By Night tells a broad, sweeping tale that stretches from 1926 to 1935, and from Boston to Tampa, Florida and on to Cuba. It includes a number of historical figures as well as fictional characters and follows the story that Lehane began several years ago in The Given Day. At the center of the story is Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of Boston police captain, Thomas Coughlin. The Coughlin home was not a happy one, at least not for young Joe, who early on amused himself by doping out the combi Live By Night tells a broad, sweeping tale that stretches from 1926 to 1935, and from Boston to Tampa, Florida and on to Cuba. It includes a number of historical figures as well as fictional characters and follows the story that Lehane began several years ago in The Given Day. At the center of the story is Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of Boston police captain, Thomas Coughlin. The Coughlin home was not a happy one, at least not for young Joe, who early on amused himself by doping out the combinations to the household safes where his father squirreled away the payoffs and other money that accrued to a corrupt police official at the height of Prohibition. As a boy, Joe reacted by joining a gang that committed minor crimes, including the arson-for-hire of competing newsstands. Then one night, in the midst of robbing a poker game that is allegedly protected by one of the city's most important mobsters, Joe has the bad luck to fall in love at first sight with the woman who just happens to be the girlfriend of the aforementioned mobster. The affair will launch young Joe on the journey of his lifetime, or at least the next nine years of it, which would seem like a lifetime to any normal person. It would be unfair to say any more about the plot, but this is a captivating story, filled with memorable characters. Lehane captures brilliantly the spirit of the age and the settings are so well rendered that at times the reader feels as though he or she is actually circulating through Boston, Tampa or Cuba along with the characters. This is a book that should appeal to a wide range of readers and not just to fans of crime fiction. It also makes a wonderful companion piece to White Shadow, a very good book by Ace Atkins that is set in the underworld of Tampa in the 1950s and which centers on Charlie Wall, the man who was then the city's mob boss.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    There’s an element that bugged the heck out of me all the way through this novel, so let me just get it out of the way and move on, since this was a read I really enjoyed. Despite the abundance of ideas in Live By Night, ideas which relate to the story’s era and setting: the futility of Prohibition, Jazz Age excess, bootlegging and gangland violence, racism, the Cuban émigré community in Florida - the main character, Joe Coughlin, isn’t given any real purpose or object to pursue. What are the mo There’s an element that bugged the heck out of me all the way through this novel, so let me just get it out of the way and move on, since this was a read I really enjoyed. Despite the abundance of ideas in Live By Night, ideas which relate to the story’s era and setting: the futility of Prohibition, Jazz Age excess, bootlegging and gangland violence, racism, the Cuban émigré community in Florida - the main character, Joe Coughlin, isn’t given any real purpose or object to pursue. What are the motivating factors in Joe’s life that take him from Boston Irish middle-class comfort and respectability to sitting on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, tied to a chair, his feet incased in a block of cement? Live By Night is more a series of events in a gangster’s life without the structure of what Robert McKee calls a “controlling idea.” Readers of The Given Day will know Joe’s family history. The youngest son of a celebrated Boston police captain, he turns his back on a life of fighting crime to become a criminal himself. This father-son conflict theme is the focus of Joe’s internal story, but is not strong evidence as the cause of his behavior. It’s not necessary to have read The Given Day to get deliciously caught up in Live By Night, but the forces that motivate Joe are implied by the events of the previous novel (which is fantastic, by the way) and are left to take root in the overworked symbolism of a Philippe Patek watch. Okay, okay, that’s just me. You can forget all the story structure stuff and jump on the running board of your 1929 Studebaker Dictator 6 and enjoy the ride. Dennis Lehane, who has an amazing ability to adapt his tone to fit the era of which he writes, works crime noir magic in Live By Night. This is a story of moods, settings and characters rendered in period details so exact you sweat and cower in a Boston prison cell, or sweat and drink in a Florida speakeasy, or sweat and yearn watching a beautiful woman’s hips sway underneath a threadbare skirt as if you were Joe’s shadow. You can feel the author’s giddiness in his own story, the breathless ride he can’t wait for you to experience. He works in a bit of ruminative social psychology, really wanting you to root for the good guy gone bad who never loses his good heart. It’s an homage to the Humphrey Bogart anti-hero that makes the reader yearn for the putt-putt of a Tommy gun and a smartly –turned Fedora, while wriggling uncomfortably with the incongruous romance of the gangster’s life. Lehane writes female characters particularly well. Live By Night offers a triangle of remarkable women, each of whom leaves indelible imprints of lust, compassion and tragedy at significant stages of Joe’s coming-of-outlaw. Get lost in the gorgeous details and the nail-biting moments and never mind the incomplete redemption. Or that dire cement block. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Joe Coughlin.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    -May 2013 Awarded Edgar Award for Best Novel- This tale chronologically tells of the rise of a main protagonist Joe, a cops son, to a position of command of many men who partake in things of an illegal criterion. Badabing badaboom with nostalgia, a different time in history more godfather like in its climb and battle to keep power but Joe started up with no Kin in-crime, his father was a cop so he had maybe you could say a slight disadvantage to make his name in fireworks but this fact could hold -May 2013 Awarded Edgar Award for Best Novel- This tale chronologically tells of the rise of a main protagonist Joe, a cops son, to a position of command of many men who partake in things of an illegal criterion. Badabing badaboom with nostalgia, a different time in history more godfather like in its climb and battle to keep power but Joe started up with no Kin in-crime, his father was a cop so he had maybe you could say a slight disadvantage to make his name in fireworks but this fact could hold importance to others. He is a man of love he falls for a few damsels, woman with power and beauty some he losses, some he married. There was one woman whom he felt attraction for and she held quite a memorable role in this story for me she had a cause a fight but under it all she had fallen victim to an enemy more closer that she could acknowledge. Read about her and all the other characters and be immersed. The bad money and the power these characters had in this tale aided a revolution and helped create jobs in the setting up of plantations and other enterprises in hotter terrains. With the positives it had the down sides that would only be felt for those in the thick of it, the ones at the top of the echelon they are sure to loose in life-expectancy line of matters be it their sole existence or those loved near to them. Dennis Lehane is a great writer of dialogue, crisp and flowing prose that places you in the story, the scene, the characters shoes. His great storytelling have themes of controversy, from the dark human stain of people and society, past and present from timeline of lives. I find that all his novels so far that I have read have never failed in hooking me in and immersing me in the tale. They also make great movies when adapted to screenplays. Prohibition, prison, rebellions, FBI, KKK, Edgar Hoover and Roosevelt and all that went on in those turbulent times have important roles in this great historical fiction story that hold some truth in Americas past. From Boston, Florida, and to Cuba with revolutions and shifting of powers a splendid story a must read that will be added on my list of best reads published in 2012. “When a woman once asked Joe how he could come from such a magnificent home and such a good family and still become a gangster, Joe’s answer was two-pronged: (a) he wasn’t a gangster; he was an outlaw; (b) he came from a magnificent house, not a magnificent home.” “But the rules apply to all of you, no matter what your colour or creed. Never look a guard in the eyes. Never question a guard’s order. Never cross over the dirt track that runs along the wall. Never touch yourselves or one another in an unwholesome manner. Just do your time like good fish, without complaint or ill will, and we’ll find harmonious accord along the pathway to your restitution.” “Wonderful. And, yet, dead was dead. Gone was gone. No edifice, no legacy, no bridge named after you could change that. You were only guaranteed one life, so you’d better live it.” “Joe went to the door and Dion opened it and a teenager girl, all breathless energy, stood on the other side. It was the daughter in all the photographs, beautiful and apple-haired, rose gold skin so unblemished it achieved a soft-sun radiance. Joe guessed she was seventeen. Her beauty found his throat, stopped it for a moment, put a catch in the words about to leave his mouth, so all he could manage was a hesitant, “Miss…” yet it wasn’t a beauty that evoked anything carnal in him. It was somehow purer than that. The beauty of Chief Irving Figgis’s daughter wasn’t something you wanted to despoil, it was something you wanted to beatify.” “Donations paid for this club,” Esteban said smoothly. “Its doors are kept open the same way. When Cubans go out on a Friday night, they want to go to a place where they can dress up, a place that makes them feel like they are back in Havana, a place with style. Pizzazz, yes?” he snapped his fingers. “In here, nobody calls us spics or mud men. We are free to speak our language and sing our songs and recite our poetry.” “Joe knew what the nod meant-this was why they became outlaws. To live moments the insurance salesman of the world, the truck drivers, and lawyers and bank tellers and carpenters and Realtors would never know. Moments in a world without nets-none to catch you and none to envelop you. Joe looked at Dion and recalled what he’d felt after the first time they’d knocked over that newsstand on Bowdoin Street when they were thirteen years old, We will probably die young.” “President Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on the morning of March 23, 1933, legalizing the manufacture and sale of beer and wine with an alcohol content no greater than 3.2 percent. By the end of the year, FDR promised, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution would be a memory.” Visit my webpage for 2 different Craig Ferguson Late Late shows interviewing Dennis Lehane (Funny)>>http://more2read.com/review/live-by-night-by-dennis-lehane/

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mizuki

    It is a tale as old as time itself: boy meets girl, boy loses girl; but this time the boy is a small-time robber and the girl is a crime boss' girlfriend. It is a tale as old as time itself: a young man fights to earn a fortune, earns it, but in the end (view spoiler)[loses the woman he loves most (hide spoiler)] . Live by Night reads like a coming of age story of a young man who lived with his small-time-crook-buddies in the Prohibition Era. I do need to complain that from time to times the 20 and It is a tale as old as time itself: boy meets girl, boy loses girl; but this time the boy is a small-time robber and the girl is a crime boss' girlfriend. It is a tale as old as time itself: a young man fights to earn a fortune, earns it, but in the end (view spoiler)[loses the woman he loves most (hide spoiler)] . Live by Night reads like a coming of age story of a young man who lived with his small-time-crook-buddies in the Prohibition Era. I do need to complain that from time to times the 20 and then 25 years old MC looks a bit too smart for his young age. Still, the rest of the story is pretty good. Like I'd stated previously in this review, the setting is nothing new: boy meets girl, boy loses girl etc; still Dennis Lehane managed to make his novel stand out with his badass writing skill and the vivid atmosphere he created. I also like how people of colors and their ways of life in the Prohibition Era are mentioned. [email protected]/11/2020: I recently watched the movie adaptation of Live By Night (2016), I think it's a decent movie, with a good production job, a strong cast and it is pretty faithful to its novel origin (expects they cut out the prison stuff), however the movie doesn't keep me at the edge of my seat like the novel one did, I don't very much feel the passion the main character had for his ladies, plus more damaging still, at the beginning of the movie, I am underwhelmed by the MC's capability as a robber to a point that I can't even see why this Italian crime boss would decide to (view spoiler)[entrust part of his business to this 25 years old guy (hide spoiler)] . By the way, I really don't like the MC narrating his story through a voice-over for an entire movie, it feels like I'm reading footnotes instead of experiencing exciting, dangerous events together with the characters. Still, the life-and-death struggle for power and survival at the ending part of the movie does boost up this movie for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A completely new setting for a Lehane novel for me. It starts in Boston, but spends a lot of time in Florida & even Cuba. An excellent adventure in Prohibition with great characters. A lot of close calls, sad deaths, & justice occasionally happens. Can't count on that, though. Lehane's novels are as bad as life in that respect. I wish I hadn't listened to this before the first one, but I didn't think I had that. This contains a lot of spoilers so I don't even want to listen to that one now. A completely new setting for a Lehane novel for me. It starts in Boston, but spends a lot of time in Florida & even Cuba. An excellent adventure in Prohibition with great characters. A lot of close calls, sad deaths, & justice occasionally happens. Can't count on that, though. Lehane's novels are as bad as life in that respect. I wish I hadn't listened to this before the first one, but I didn't think I had that. This contains a lot of spoilers so I don't even want to listen to that one now.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Naturally all the reviews I read on this site praised the author and the novel. This is standard for every review. Reader tells what the story is about and then say what a great book it was and what a great writer the author is. I have no idea what they got out of the book. There is nothing specific except what the book is about. It's unfortunate that readers are not educated enough to explain what it is about a book that they like or maybe dislike. I've read all of Lehane and find him to be a be Naturally all the reviews I read on this site praised the author and the novel. This is standard for every review. Reader tells what the story is about and then say what a great book it was and what a great writer the author is. I have no idea what they got out of the book. There is nothing specific except what the book is about. It's unfortunate that readers are not educated enough to explain what it is about a book that they like or maybe dislike. I've read all of Lehane and find him to be a better than average storyteller. His earlier detective stories were great. The characters and plots were well developed, especially Gone Baby Gone. Mystic River was amazing. He created three different characters and followed their different paths from childhood and set the literary world on fire with their story. Shutter Island had a spoiler which made it very clever but it took a long time for it happen making it not quite worth the plodding. The Given Day was way too long and not memorable. Live by Night was episodic. The parts were far better than the whole. This genre and setting have been thoroughly mined before certainly with the Godfather and recently with Boardwalk Empire. Lehane doesn't break any new ground with this and his characters are flat. I had hoped and wanted more from Lehane but it' appears to be an all too familiar melody from here on. Lots of people like that. it's comfortable ,but it falls short of the magical writing he demonstrated earlier in his career. Gone Dennis Gone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I’m addicted to Lehane’s storytelling skills, and this book supplied me with a good fix. As with Stephen King, people can debate all they want about where Lehane fits in the scheme of lasting literature, but I don’t care for that subject. I get pleasure from his ability to draw me in with complex characters I care about and to engage me in their development as they walk the line between the darkness and the light. I also appreciate his non-flashy prose, which works effectively and almost invisib I’m addicted to Lehane’s storytelling skills, and this book supplied me with a good fix. As with Stephen King, people can debate all they want about where Lehane fits in the scheme of lasting literature, but I don’t care for that subject. I get pleasure from his ability to draw me in with complex characters I care about and to engage me in their development as they walk the line between the darkness and the light. I also appreciate his non-flashy prose, which works effectively and almost invisibly in the service of the story. For the story here, we return to Boston in the 20’s, the scene of The Given Day, and take up the story of Joe Coughlin, son of a high ranking and corrupt policeman and brother to another son who was featured in the earlier book. Over the decades of the novel Joe evolves from juvenile delinquent to organized crime boss. Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Joe gets a fast lesson in adopting violence to survive. But instead of family responsibilities in the face of a gang war driving his progression, Joe’s lessons come from a crash course in survival during a two year stint in prison. The initial almost innocent origin of Joe’s criminal career lies in youthful thrills, which then grows out his successes coupled to a Robin Hood mentality: It occurred to him that thinking like this could explain why, even after all the jobs he’d pulled, he rarely had much money in his pockets. Sometimes it seemed like he stole money from one place just to give it away somewhere else. But he also stole it because it was fun and he was good at it and it led to other things he was good at like bootlegging and rum-running … His choice for the life of crime also has romance behind it. Falling in love with the girlfriend of a mob boss has a lot to do with how he ends up in prison. Also, he sees himself as an outlaw, not a heartless gangster. At a visit from his brother while incarcerated, he explains his moral philosophy: “You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy’s leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think’s there’s a difference, like the banker’s just doing his job but the loan shark’s a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I’m sitting right now. …” This is close to the mythos in Woody Guthrie’s song about Pretty Boy Floyd: “Some men rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen.” The duplicity of the legitimate powers in society includes his own father: A lifetime of paybacks and kickbacks and graft. His father—a pillar of the City on the Hill, the Athens of America, the Hub of the Universe—was more criminal than Joe could ever aspire to be. Because Joe had never figured out how to show more than one face to world, whereas his father had so many faces at his disposal the question was which of them was the original and which the imitations. Joe’s drive to take risks for love and to make a personal vendetta against those who threaten people he cares for becomes a liability in a world brutally driven by the profit motive. What makes him most human in this sense arises from trying to fill an emptiness in his heart. Despite a middle class upbringing: there was a hole at the center of it, a great distance between Joe and his parents that reflected the distance between his mother and his father and his mother and the world at large. His parents had fought a war before he was born, a war that ended with a peace so fragile that to acknowledge its existence could cause it to shatter, so no one ever discussed it. But the battlefield had still lain between them; she sat on her side, he sat on his. And Joe sat out in the middle, between the trenches, in the scorched dirt. The hole at the center of his house had been the hole at the center of his parents and one day the hole found the center of Joe. All of this nicely adds to the plausibility of Joe’s character and contributes my empathy for him as a reader. Most of the novel’s story concerns Joe’s rise to become a gangster “prince” in Tampa in teamwork with Cubans who help secure a monopoly on the smuggling of sugar cane and on rum distilleries. Many tense and violent conflicts with competitors leave him with a lot of blood on his hands. His princess love, Graciela, is essentially a revolutionary interested in the overthrow of Machado’s brutal regime. Unfortunately, Battista turned out to be just as bad, as capitalist investment in his regime fails in the presumption that “good deeds can follow bad money”. In contrast, Graciela’s interest in developing medical and social service resources for Latino immigrants in Tampa keeps Joe’s hope in this principle alive as a potential path to redemption. Lehane ends up rendering a history in microcosm of the blended contributions of various ethnic groups in the building of the Florida society and economy. The moralism of Evangelicals and the KKK are shown as significant influences on why Nevada and Havana instead of Florida were chosen for a Mafia casino empire after the end of Prohibition. But the historical aspects are just icing on the cake for this exciting tale of a “rebel without a cause”, surviving by his wits, and tragically underestimating the costs of the outlaw way of life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    My sincere thanks to William Morrow who provided an advanced reading copy of Live by Night which will be published October 2012. If you look back at my book shelf you'll see I really loved Dennis Lehane's The Given Day. What I can't quite figure out is why I didn't write anything about it at the time. I thought I had. Regardless, when given the opportunity by William Morrow Publishing to read Live by Night, I was thrilled. Live by Night is being called The Given Day #2 and does continue the story My sincere thanks to William Morrow who provided an advanced reading copy of Live by Night which will be published October 2012. If you look back at my book shelf you'll see I really loved Dennis Lehane's The Given Day. What I can't quite figure out is why I didn't write anything about it at the time. I thought I had. Regardless, when given the opportunity by William Morrow Publishing to read Live by Night, I was thrilled. Live by Night is being called The Given Day #2 and does continue the story that began in Boston, just at the end of World War I. This time out you'll learn a great deal more about son number three of Captain Thomas Coughlin, Joseph. You could call this a gangsta saga, as it takes place in prohibition time America with all its violence, rum running and vying for power. The action begins in the Boston speakeasys where Joe' butts heads with one Albert White. Their fight not only involves who will control the liquor but who will be the winner in the quest for the woman they both desire. Deals and double crosses land Joe in prison. Being on the inside doesn't stop the wheeling or dealing nor the violence. When Joe is released from prison the action accelerates with a vengeance. Unlike some mobster novels, Live by Night is not about a crime family where the torch is passed from father to son but one with corruption passed down just the same. From Boston to the streets of Tampa with shades of Cuba, from tobacco to booze, from betrayal to redemption, from beginning to end, Live by Night gives us a glimpse of an bygone era. Joe Coughlin's story was not as compelling for me as The Given Day but should keep fans of Lehane entertained. Picked up by Warner, the movie may star Leonardo DiCaprio which doesn't seem quite right to me but if anyone can take on a persona DiCaprio can.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book started with good promise. Joe was an interesting character operating in a vividly described 1920s Boston. His father was chief of police. As you might expect in Lehane novels, Joe was a criminal protagonist. Lehane does a good job of exploring father/son conflicts, and extends the family theme into Joe's criminal decision making. Unfortunately, the latter two thirds of the book in Tampa read like Hollywood cliche. This book started with good promise. Joe was an interesting character operating in a vividly described 1920s Boston. His father was chief of police. As you might expect in Lehane novels, Joe was a criminal protagonist. Lehane does a good job of exploring father/son conflicts, and extends the family theme into Joe's criminal decision making. Unfortunately, the latter two thirds of the book in Tampa read like Hollywood cliche.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    IMDb - Screenplay based on Dennis Lehane’s novel "Live by Night" movie released January, 2017 - staring Ben Affleck (RottenTomatoes.com - Audience score 3.1 / 5) I liked the book more than the movie. Other Dennis Lehane movies based on his books, "Shutter Island", "The Drop", "Gone Baby Gone", "Mystic River") Youtube - Live by Night Movie trailer One of my favorite actors - Ben Affleck By 1926, Prohibition, gangsters & corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, son of Boston police captain, leads "organized IMDb - Screenplay based on Dennis Lehane’s novel "Live by Night" movie released January, 2017 - staring Ben Affleck (RottenTomatoes.com - Audience score 3.1 / 5) I liked the book more than the movie. Other Dennis Lehane movies based on his books, "Shutter Island", "The Drop", "Gone Baby Gone", "Mystic River") Youtube - Live by Night Movie trailer One of my favorite actors - Ben Affleck By 1926, Prohibition, gangsters & corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, son of Boston police captain, leads "organized crime", he goes from Boston to Florida to Cuba fighting other gangsters. Characters to watch in the "Live by Night" book. 1. Joe Coughlin (main character) - Boston Italian mobster 2. Tim Hickey - lead Boston's Irish gang "boss" 3. Albert White - Tim Hickey's biggest enemy 4. Emma Gould - Albert White's girl having affairs with Joe 5. Maso Pescatore - Italian mobster 6. Graciela Corrales - Joe's Cuban wife 7. Dion Bartolo - Joe's partner 8. Chief Irving Figgis - Corrupt Boston policemen Joe works for Tim Hickey & sent to rob Albert White's gambling room, his bosses biggest enemy. Joe meets & starts an affair with Emma Gould, Albert White's mistress, catches Joe's attention. Joe is caught for bank robbery & sent to Boston's Charlestown Penitentiary. Emma crashes into a river, body not found & presumed dead. Joe protected by Maso Pescatore (Italian mobster) gets him out of prison. Joe goes back to work for Maso in Florida for Cuban rum-running, tobacco & cigar traffic. After prohibition, Joe begins US legalized gambling with corrupt politicians. Joe's lose of Emma Gould, is replaced with love of Graciela Corrales, in Florida. Maco Pescatore decides to replace Joe with his son. Albert White blames Joe for Emma's death. Joe, Graciela & their son return Cuba, to live a quieter life. Joe makes himself an "advisor" & Dion Bartolo becomes the "head" of the family. Joe meets Emma Gould & he finds out she was involved in Joe's arrest. Joe & Graciela return to the United States for a visit, Graciela is killed by corrupt Chief Irving Figgis. Joe turns his back on organized crime to live a more mundane life with his son. FYI note: Other good movies I like with Ben Affleck as the lead character are The Town (Movie trailer) (based on the book Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan) and Gone Girl (Movie trailer) (based on the Gone Girl book by Gillian Flynn) Live by Night Movie - Rotten Tomatoes link

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    Live By Night begins in the thick of the roaring 20s. The advent of prohibition has normalized corruption among the police and criminals with an explosion of illegal distilleries and speakeasies popping up all over the country. Despite the government’s best efforts to keep liquor out of the hands of the population, consumption has more than doubled. The potential to climb the ladder of organized crime has never been more attractive and Joseph Coughlin, son of prominent police officer Thomas Coug Live By Night begins in the thick of the roaring 20s. The advent of prohibition has normalized corruption among the police and criminals with an explosion of illegal distilleries and speakeasies popping up all over the country. Despite the government’s best efforts to keep liquor out of the hands of the population, consumption has more than doubled. The potential to climb the ladder of organized crime has never been more attractive and Joseph Coughlin, son of prominent police officer Thomas Coughlin, sees his opportunity. A botched bank robbery coupled with a double cross from career criminal Albert White lands Joe in jail where he promptly forms an alliance with Thomaso Pescatore, a powerful mob boss. When Joe finishes up his sentence, Thomaso sends him down south to Tampa to lock Albert out of the rum trade, crippling his presence in Boston. It isn’t long before Joe becomes an institution in South Florida with power that spreads far up the Eastern seaboard. Holding onto that power becomes a constant struggle as Joe clashes with the US army, cuban revolutionaries and the Ku Klux Klan. The second book in Lehane’s acclaimed Coughlin trilogy, Live By Night more than lives up to its predecessor, despite being two very different books. Where The Given Day is a sprawling epic about the struggle for the average worker’s rights, Live By Night is a tightly focused study on the unstable power structure of the criminal underground. Although it can be argued that the “gangster novel” is a tired genre, it’s Lehane’s ability to craft an edge-of-your-seat thriller as well as a rich cast of characters sets that one apart from others. In an interview with Craig Ferguson a few years back, Lehane had known that he wanted to pick up where he left off with The Given Day but knew that whiskey was the vice of choice in prohibition-era Boston. To him, that had already been done to death. After some thought, he realized that no one had really looked at the rum trade and with an old city like Tampa at the heart of the action, he felt right at home moving the setting down south. Rather than the deeply ingrained racism between the Italians and the Irish in Boston, Lehane gets to explore the institutionalised racism between the KKK and basically everyone who isn’t a native born American. This leads to some uncomfortable scenes but one specific moment where I audibly cheered at the demise of a despicable character at the hands of Joe. Dennis Lehane is fast becoming one of my favourite living authors and Live By Night further cements him. I look forward to anything he puts out. I have high hopes for the third book in this series, “World Gone By” and have it on deck to read shortly.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Owens

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed it. It was better than I expected. At first it started off very much like lots of other 1920's biographies of real people like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. There were echoes from The Godfather - The young Vito's early gangster life in New York. It also reminded me of Billy Bathgate, the fictional account of a young man working with Dutch Schulz. Lehane has obviously read a lot of these old stories and seen the films, so it would be very difficult not to be derivative. H I enjoyed it. It was better than I expected. At first it started off very much like lots of other 1920's biographies of real people like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. There were echoes from The Godfather - The young Vito's early gangster life in New York. It also reminded me of Billy Bathgate, the fictional account of a young man working with Dutch Schulz. Lehane has obviously read a lot of these old stories and seen the films, so it would be very difficult not to be derivative. However, the things that I liked were done quite well: the early life, the backstory about a corrupt cop father, the time in prison, the move to Tampa, the empire building, the love story and of course the grand finale. Lehane doesn't overdo the colourful prose too much. Although at times you can skip a page or two when he's describing everything about the sights, smells, sounds and colours of a scene. Just tell us it's red hot and you're in a café in the morning and we'll do the rest. There is a bit of navel gazing but not too much. The gangster wants to "live in the night" hence the title and not follow the everyday rules of normal people. The usual problem is that the author wants to make Joe, the protagonist likeable. For fuck's sake, he's a gangster in a savage age who gets to the top of his profession. The only way to do that is to be as wild and savage as the other animals in the jungle. But Lehane shies away from that. Joe only kills bad guys who deserve it. if I ever write a bad guy story, I will let my bad guy be an evil fucker, who kills for fun. Maybe that's just me. I liked the fact that his mentor betrays him in the end for no reasons other than greed and jealousy. Maso's an old man dying of cancer and he can't stand the fact that Joe is still young and successful, so he decides to use his power to fuck him up. I won't spoil the ending for you. It's worth a read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nette

    This is disturbing. Somebody has kidnapped terse, cynical, grimly funny Dennis Lehane, the guy who wrote a series of excellent Boston detective novels, and replaced him with a sentimental hack who writes sentences like this: "He was starting to suspect he was in love with her. In those rare moments when the cage opened and he was invited in, he found a person desperate to trust, desperate to love, hell, desperate to live She just needed to see he was worthy of risking that trust, that love, that This is disturbing. Somebody has kidnapped terse, cynical, grimly funny Dennis Lehane, the guy who wrote a series of excellent Boston detective novels, and replaced him with a sentimental hack who writes sentences like this: "He was starting to suspect he was in love with her. In those rare moments when the cage opened and he was invited in, he found a person desperate to trust, desperate to love, hell, desperate to live She just needed to see he was worthy of risking that trust, that love, that life." Would whoever swapped Lehane for a 90-year-old Harlequin Romance author please, please return him?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    While not as affecting or as memorable as The Given Day , Dennis Lehane's usual potent writing and attention to detail elevates this sort-of-sequel. Great read. While not as affecting or as memorable as The Given Day , Dennis Lehane's usual potent writing and attention to detail elevates this sort-of-sequel. Great read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karolyn Sherwood

    I am a big fan of Dennis Lehane's, but I'm not the target audience for this book. I agree with most of the big reviews of Live By Night: it's a high-level gangster novel, and it is very well-written. But in my opinion the plot is not necessarily fresh, and it never reaches the brilliance of Shutter Island. Live (rhymes with give) By Night chronicles a good-hearted though misguided young man named Joe Coughlin. Lehane elevates him by making him a non-racist in a time when almost everyone else is d I am a big fan of Dennis Lehane's, but I'm not the target audience for this book. I agree with most of the big reviews of Live By Night: it's a high-level gangster novel, and it is very well-written. But in my opinion the plot is not necessarily fresh, and it never reaches the brilliance of Shutter Island. Live (rhymes with give) By Night chronicles a good-hearted though misguided young man named Joe Coughlin. Lehane elevates him by making him a non-racist in a time when almost everyone else is driven by racism. Also, for the first half of the novel, he doesn't kill anyone. How can we not like this guy? But he learns to kill... and then he learns to love... So we like him again, and of course we root for him. What sets this novel above the average crime novel is Lehane's literary gift. One example: "Far off at the horizon line, thin bolts of lightning carved jagged white veins in the skin of the world. Their faint and sudden light would reveal swollen clouds as dark as plums massed out there like an enemy army." This book is a great read but it won't make you lose any sleep. Four Stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucia

    It has been a long time since I had read such a great historical crime novel. I definitely need to read more by this author. Recommended!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Just yesterday I was so excited to see this movie. But that ending, ugh. Don’t know if I can watch it now. So anyway- I listened to the audio. Admittedly, I’m a terrible listener. I need stuff to do with my hands or have something to look at to be paying attention. Don’t ask. I’m quirky that way. But! This did hold my attention and though I know I missed some parts there was a lot about it to love. The setting is beautifully told. Lehane paints a beautiful picture of prohibition/depression era Am Just yesterday I was so excited to see this movie. But that ending, ugh. Don’t know if I can watch it now. So anyway- I listened to the audio. Admittedly, I’m a terrible listener. I need stuff to do with my hands or have something to look at to be paying attention. Don’t ask. I’m quirky that way. But! This did hold my attention and though I know I missed some parts there was a lot about it to love. The setting is beautifully told. Lehane paints a beautiful picture of prohibition/depression era America. It’s interesting because it’s told from the point of view of someone who’s wealthy. The lines he connects between how the Prohibition essentially gave birth to organized crime and how it continued even after Prohibition was abolished was really fascinating. Would the world be much different if there had never been a Prohibition? Probably not, but still, you have to wonder. The plot kept me guessing. You never knew who would be knocking on Joe’s door next or why. It’s filled with highs and lows, love and loss. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering who will go down next, how Joe will get out of his situation. What scheme will he cook up to stay on top? The characters are wonderfully full of life. I especially loved Graciela. She was complex and intricate and I think though Lehane is a male author, he did her justice in that she is strong and fierce and independent, but also nurturing and caring towards those she loves and her community. My only real critique for the audiobook, is that the narrator (not sure who) would try to apply the Boston accent to Joe from time to time, and then by the end Joe was talking either with no accent at all or in the style of Tony Soprano. If you’re going to do the accent then commit to it or at least keep it consistent. Also- I’m adding a content warning here regarding the use of racial slurs and derogatory/inflammatory language towards women. There are many. I know it’s a gangster story and it’s told in a time when this is probably the norm, but I still cringed every time one was spoken. I don’t even think it was limited to minorities, I’m pretty sure there were slurs for the Irish and Italians too, it was just jarring to hear them spoken out loud. I’ll definitely be checking out other books by Lehane in the future. I’m hoping the rest of the Coughlin series lives up to this one. (On a side note- I don’t think these need to be read in order though it might help. I had no problem following along and I haven’t read any of the other books even though this is book two.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This is my first foray into reading Dennis Lehane. I'm not a mystery reader, generally, nor am I a fan of crime novels OR historical novels. However, with Mr. Lehane on the Board of Trustees where I work, I thought I'd give this a try. Add to that the consistent praise his work gets, I figured I would overcome my usual disinterest for the genre and give it a try. I was suitably impressed. Dennis is a great writer, and his marvelously detailed and nuanced story of the life of an gangster... oops, This is my first foray into reading Dennis Lehane. I'm not a mystery reader, generally, nor am I a fan of crime novels OR historical novels. However, with Mr. Lehane on the Board of Trustees where I work, I thought I'd give this a try. Add to that the consistent praise his work gets, I figured I would overcome my usual disinterest for the genre and give it a try. I was suitably impressed. Dennis is a great writer, and his marvelously detailed and nuanced story of the life of an gangster... oops, outlaw... during the Prohibition era (late 20s/early 30s) was absorbing and entertaining. I was worried that the over-the-top male energy of this type of book would put me off, but Dennis writes terrific women, and makes them central to the story. Add to that a fascinating and engaging main character in Joe Coughlin, and the well-researched historical detail, and you've got a real winner. Glad I finally gave him a try.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mayer

    This is a Right Now book. Meaning my wife read it and I had to read it right now so we could discuss it. Not tomorrow or when I was less busy but drop everything because it's so good that it needs to be shared like a movie. Thankfully she doesn't read many right now books. Most are when you have time or on the plane or if it's sort of interesting--when you miss your flight. This was a are-you-done-yet, right now book. And I see why. Once we finished the rehash over dinner, at the dog park and du This is a Right Now book. Meaning my wife read it and I had to read it right now so we could discuss it. Not tomorrow or when I was less busy but drop everything because it's so good that it needs to be shared like a movie. Thankfully she doesn't read many right now books. Most are when you have time or on the plane or if it's sort of interesting--when you miss your flight. This was a are-you-done-yet, right now book. And I see why. Once we finished the rehash over dinner, at the dog park and during the drive to the grocery store we both agreed that it's pretty amazing to read so many great sentences right in a row. I mean rows and rows of them for hours. The story is great and my wife knows organized crime the way other women know recipes. Actually, I wish she knew more recipes but we did bond over our bookshelves so I knew what I was getting. But beyond the story which she filled me in on all the back stories of Tampa, Cuba etc. is the wicked writing. It's one thing to reread sentences to because you're falling out of the story and another to reread them for the sheer pleasure of seeing those words placed just that way. As my wife says--he built it. A reference to not only Joe, but to Lehane and what he built is well worth the read. Read it right now.

  29. 4 out of 5

    F.R.

    As much as I liked ‘Live by Night’ – and there’s a cracking story here, expertly put together by a superb story-teller – I couldn’t help thinking that I’d seen it all before. “Seen” is the operative word, as in this post-‘Sopranos’ age (and post-‘Boardwalk Empire’ age), there’s a hell of a lot that’s really familiar. I enjoyed the various ups and downs of the young, prohibition-era, Irish-American gangster at its centre, following his path from grim violent Boston to sunny violent Florida. But e As much as I liked ‘Live by Night’ – and there’s a cracking story here, expertly put together by a superb story-teller – I couldn’t help thinking that I’d seen it all before. “Seen” is the operative word, as in this post-‘Sopranos’ age (and post-‘Boardwalk Empire’ age), there’s a hell of a lot that’s really familiar. I enjoyed the various ups and downs of the young, prohibition-era, Irish-American gangster at its centre, following his path from grim violent Boston to sunny violent Florida. But even though I enjoyed it, my thoughts found themselves wandering frequently to ‘Scarface’ or ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ or ‘Carlito’s Way’ or ‘The Roaring Twenties’. Okay, this is at the top-end, quality-wise, of gangster novels; but no matter how much I enjoyed it, all the plot points and characters beats I have already seen at least once at the movies and on television. And I guess that puts ‘Live by Night’ in an odd position, as the people who will want to read this are no doubt fans of the gangster genre, who will thus be frighteningly au fait with the ins and outs of tough guys in spats making threats. So although these people may enjoy it a lot, they’ll probably come away thinking, like I did: “Entertaining read – but is there anything actually new here?”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Wow, another great effort by Lehane. This is the 2nd of the series and he paints a vivid picture of gangsters, Boston, Prohibition, the Depression, Cuba; love, hate, envy, longing and desire for survival. We follow the Joe Coughlin, whose father was a decorated policeman in Boston, but Joe himself turns to a life of crime and becomes an outlaw (he never considers himself a gangster), and we follow his path from Boston, to prison, to Ybor City Florida and into Cuba. Well written, fast-paced and t Wow, another great effort by Lehane. This is the 2nd of the series and he paints a vivid picture of gangsters, Boston, Prohibition, the Depression, Cuba; love, hate, envy, longing and desire for survival. We follow the Joe Coughlin, whose father was a decorated policeman in Boston, but Joe himself turns to a life of crime and becomes an outlaw (he never considers himself a gangster), and we follow his path from Boston, to prison, to Ybor City Florida and into Cuba. Well written, fast-paced and totally absorbing. Even though it is book 2 of the series you need not have read the first book to follow things here. I have given both of his Coughlin family novels 5***** and yet these are the only Lehane books that I have read. Coughlin #3 is in my library and I will probably get around to reading it and finishing this sage during the year, and then will turn to the public library for other books by Lehane. Very fine effort!

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