Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

I keep a little Word doc of books to read on my computer.  It is a quick and easy way to jot down recommendations from articles, email and other online sources before I forget about them.  Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane found its way on to this list somehow and I ran across it at the library just when I needed something new to read.  I can’t remember why it made the list which was pretty neat.  This meant I had no expectations other than I probably would like it.

It is your basic crime and detective novel set in Boston.  As with almost any good book, there is a mystery to solve that isn’t completely obvious.  The characters were interesting and distinct.  I loved that the story was compact, providing only the minimum cast needed to tell the tale.  No time was spent trying to remember who this or that person was and why they were in the story.

My biggest gripe with this book was also its biggest strength:  the dialog.  Lehane has the ability to write believable and interesting dialog.  He reminds me very much of Quentin Tarantino in this respect.  His characters speak the way people talk and they convey ideas that people might really believe.  Of course, just like a movie, it is amped up a little.  No one is that clever or interesting 100% of the time in real life.  None the less, the dialog is the heart beat of this book.  It tells us about the characters, describes scenes, moves the plot along and more.

Unfortunately, because there is a bunch of talking, there is a lot less action.  As I think back on the story, it doesn’t move from location to location much.  It doesn’t develop much over the course of the book.  For this reason, when we were about halfway through the book, I told Melanie that I wanted to hear the rest of the story but I also wanted to take Lehane off the book list because the pace was just too slow.  By the end of book, when the action picks up, he had recaptured me as a future reader.

Overall, Melanie and I both liked it and we can see why this guy is a New York Times bestselling author.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light distraction with some memorable characters.  Because of  its crime/detective theme, expect violence, but nothing too gruesome.  If you make it through the first half of the book, you will be rewarded with the second half.

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