Dennis Lehane, Moonlight Mile
A rock-solid character piece
Detective fiction is where 20th — and now 21st — Century authors revive the archetype of the chivalrous knight, pitting that character against modern mores. Few stories crystallized that conflict as well as Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone, his fourth novel about investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, in which Patrick returns a missing girl to her negligent mother, over Angie’s relationship-shattering objections. His actions were mandated not only by the law but by his job — what else is a detective to do, no matter the cost?
That’s the question explored by Moonlight Mile, Lehane’s first return to Kenzie and Gennaro in more than a decade. The 4-year-old Patrick rescued in Gone Baby Gone is now 16 and has gone missing again, dredging up all the old issues at a time when Patrick wins his bread doing corporate sleuthing he finds distasteful. It’s a smart springboard back into these characters’ lives, and Kenzie’s reflections and raw recriminations are the best part of Moonlight Mile.
There’s a degree to which Moonlight Mile feels a little like fan service — one last story to close out these characters and suggest a possible happy ending. But even if you only know the characters from the film version of Gone Baby Gone, you’ll slip comfortably into their shoes here. The novel, while compelling throughout, is slightly absurdist — once you’ve read it, ask yourself how its central mysteries might have resolved had the Kenzies not gotten involved — but it’s a rock-solid character piece all the way down, written with all of Lehane’s charms.