The Stacks: Gone, Baby, Gone

by Dennis Lehane

 

From Ama​zon​.com

Cheese Ola­m­on, “a six-foot-two, four-hun­dred-and-thir­ty-pound yel­low-haired Scan­di­na­vian who’d some­how arrived at the mis­con­cep­tion he was black,” is telling his old gram­mar school friends Patrick Ken­zie and Ang­ie Gen­naro why they have to con­vince anoth­er mutu­al chum, the gun deal­er Bub­ba Rugows­ki, that Cheese didn’t try to have him killed. “You let Bub­ba know I’m clean when it comes to what hap­pened to him. You want me alive. Okay? With­out me, that girl will be gone. Gone-gone. You under­stand? Gone, baby, gone.” Of all the chill­ing, com­plete­ly cred­i­ble scenes of sad­ness, destruc­tion, and betray­al in Den­nis Lehane’s fourth and very pos­si­bly best book about Ken­zie and Gen­naro, this moment stands out because it cap­tures in a few pages the essence of Lehane’s suc­cess.

Pri­vate detec­tives Ken­zie and Gen­naro, who live in the same work­ing-class Dorch­ester neigh­bor­hood of Boston where they grew up, have gone to vis­it drug deal­er Cheese in prison because they think he’s involved in the kid­nap­ping of 4-year-old Aman­da McCready. With­out sen­ti­men­tal­iz­ing the grotesque fig­ure of Cheese, Lehane tells us enough about his past to make us under­stand why he and the two detec­tives might share enough trust to pos­si­bly save a child’s life when all the best efforts of tra­di­tion­al law enforce­ment have failed. By putting Ken­zie and Gen­naro just to one side of the law (but not total­ly out­side; they have sev­er­al cop friends, a very impor­tant part of the sto­ry), Lehane adds depth and edge to tra­di­tion­al genre rela­tion­ships. The life­long love affair between Ken­zie and Gennaro–interrupted by her mar­riage to his best friend–is anoth­er per­fect­ly con­trolled ele­ment that grows and changes as we watch. Sur­round­ed by dead, abused, and miss­ing chil­dren, Ken­zie mourns and rages while Gen­naro longs for one of her own. So the choic­es made by both of them in the final pages of this absolute­ly grip­ping sto­ry have the inevitabil­i­ty of life and the daz­zling beau­ty of art.

 

Read Kath’s review here

View at Ama​zon​.com

 

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