Lehane, Dennis. Moonlight Mile.

NY: Morrow, 2010.

Back in 1998, four-year-old Amanda McCready was kidnapped for her own good (really), and Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro got her back and returned her to her waste-of-space mother. Or rather, Patrick did the right thing in terms of the law. Angie left him because he had also done the wrong thing, morally.

It’s a first-rate book with a complex plot, real-world characters, and enough ambiguity regarding right and wrong to make you think about the story much more closely.

Now it’s 2010, the economy has tanked, and Patrick is becoming desperate in his efforts to pay the bills. He and Angie eventually got back together (you knew they would) and have had a daughter, Gabriella, who is now four years old (just like Amanda in the earlier book). And Amanda’s Aunt Bea comes to them for help again because sixteen-year-old Amanda is missing again. And, again, nothing is as simple as you (or Patrick) think it is.

But while there’s some good writing here, the book as a whole is something of a disappointment. First of all, Lehane seems more interested in making political speeches about the state of the country in the hands of greedy corporations and the looming doom of the working class. Don’t get me wrong — I agree with nearly every opinion Patrick offers and I entirely share his view of the class war in America. But that’s not why I buy novels. And I can do without the preachiness.

But the story has internal problems, too. From the moment we meet Amanda at the dog park, it’s evident that she’s the deus ex machina behind everything that happens. Absolutely everything, from the first page on. She even says as much in the last chapter. And yet, we never really witness how a teenage girl, even a brilliant one, pulls all this off. We’re simply informed that she does. And when you’ve been told that all the plot points have been manipulated by Amanda (“but we’re not going to tell you how!”), there’s not a lot of point in reading the book. It all kind of reminds me of Bobby Ewing’s dream in Dallas. Also, what are we to think of a young girl who calmly stands by while the Main Bad Guy burns Patrick’s hand with a cigarette? She doesn’t react at all, which is awfully cold-blooded. Maybe sociopathic. It sure doesn’t make her more sympathetic. A pretty weak sequel.

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Published in: on 19 December 2012 at 6:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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