by Dennis Lehane
In a story that should be familiar to anyone who has seen or read The Big Sleep, a old dying billionaire charges a pair of detectives with the task of tracking down his daughter, who disappeared under highly suspicious circumstances. The detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, aren't the first ones who have tried to find her - that is Desiree Stone, daughter of Trevor - in fact, the man originally hired for the job vanished himself not long after claiming with great certainty that she was still alive.
Dennis Lehane crafts a spiraling plot where you wonder if anybody at all is telling anybody else the truth about anything. There is a cult-like group preaching some sort of church message somehow linked with a grief counseling center, and Desiree may have been a member of either or both of these groups... or was she? All of the events surrounding her disappearance are highly suspect, so much so that our detectives aren't even sure she exists at all. And if she does exist, just what is her agenda? Some say she was seen with a dangerous man named Sean Price, but does he exist? It's a big confusing mess for Kenzie and Gennaro, but a page-turner for the reader following along closely.
In the end, though, this book turns out to be fairly predictable, despite the twists that Lehane works in throughout. It's an effective detective mystery, but fails to capture on anything other than a visceral level. I enjoyed it a lot while I was reading it, but nothing really stood out for me after I completed it. If you are familiar with the standards of film noir, none of the twists will surprise you too much, although they do hold up to scrutinization of continuity.
November 2, 2004