Moonlight Mile Review
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Some authors have a gift for creating realistic characters. Some can weave a gripping tale. Very few can do both so well that readers feel as though they’re living the characters’ story instead of just reading it—but Dennis Lehane does just that in Moonlight Mile, deftly demonstrating why he’s one of the country’s most celebrated novelists.

Twelve years ago (in 1998’s Gone, Baby, Gone), private investigator Patrick Kenzie found missing four-year-old Amanda McCready and returned her to her unfit mother, Helene. It was a challenging case—one that both Patrick and his wife, Angie Gennaro Kenzie, will never forget. For the sake of their marriage, though, they never talk about it—or at least they didn’t until Amanda’s aunt Beatrice calls Patrick for help. Now a gifted teenager with a bright future, Amanda has gone missing once again, and Bea wants Patrick back on the case.

For Patrick, the case could be a kind of redemption—a way to help a little girl whom he feels he once failed. But it could also put his own family in danger.

From the very first page, Moonlight Mile is an irresistibly riveting read. If you read Gone, Baby, Gone—or even if you just saw the movie, like I did—you most likely still remember the kind of moral ambiguity that underscores the story. And it’s the same in Moonlight Mile. It’s a story that’s layered in mystery and shaded in grays.

Patrick’s job as a private investigator often finds him straddling the line between right and wrong. His contract work for the investigation firm of Duhamel-Standiford often has him helping the rich hide their money or helping corrupt companies prevent lowly employees from ratting them out. He struggles with the job (and especially his clients), but he’s good at what he does—and he needs the money to support his family.

His job may be questionable, and his friends are often rather unsavory characters—but that doesn’t mean that Patrick is an unlikable character. Quite the opposite, in fact. Deep down, he wants nothing more than to do the right thing. His conscience often causes him to lash out at his clients—which is why Duhamel-Standiford still hasn’t given him the full-time position he’s been promised. And when it comes to Amanda McCready—and her friend, Sophie, who’s also missing—he’s unrelenting in his search, determined to help these two girls whose lives have been far from ideal.

Patrick is a walking contradiction, but you’ll understand him anyway. You’ll understand why he does what he does, and you’ll even admire him for trying to make things right, no matter how risky it may be. Not only that, but you’ll love his personality—his unmistakable voice, his smart, sarcastic, yet playful manner. He’s a character that you’ll be happy to follow for 325 pages—and, when you reach the end of the story, you’ll be sorry to have to leave him behind.

Unfortunately, the story’s conclusion isn’t as powerful or as thought-provoking as I’d hoped it would be. After such an enthralling and entertaining read, the end just seems to fizzle out. Still, the action and personality of the rest of the novel more than makes up for its rather anticlimactic conclusion. If you haven’t read (or seen) Gone, Baby, Gone, I recommend starting there—but don’t miss this fantastic follow-up.

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