Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

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This is a prohibition-era story of Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a corrupt Irish-American police captain. Joe, a late addition to the family has taken a different path to his brothers and along with his childhood pal Dion, has moved from petty crime to more serious heists for local gangster Tom Hickey. On one such robbery of an illegal gambling den Joe meets Emma Gould, the mistress of a rival gang boss and their affair leads, indirectly, to prison time for Joe. Meanwhile Emma disappears, missing,  presumed dead. The son of a police officer is a vulnerable figure in jail and pressure is put on Thomas Coughlin to help out an Italian-American mobster who is threatening his son. Despite this Joe makes contacts while incarcerated which lead to a new life as a crime boss in Tampa on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The book is a well-paced, period thriller covering the twenties to thirties era bootlegging and criminality in Boston and Florida with and also deals with our anti-hero’s complicated relationship with his father Thomas Coughlin. It’s the second part of a trilogy of novels about Joe Coughlin but the books read well as stand-alone stories.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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