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Posted: August 12, 2019

Have to disagree with Stephen King about this book

Book Review

By Derryll White

Lehane, Dennis (2015).  World Gone By.

This is a different novel from Dennis Lehane.  There is none of the Boston neighbourhood of Dorchester or the residue of Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genarro. ‘World Gone By’ is set in Tampa, Florida, in 1943 with Italian crime families the dominant force.  Lehane catches the flavour of America-at-war, boiled down to how much money can be made.

The main character, Joe Coughlin, runs the businesses of the Bartolo Crime Family.  With a Boston Irish background, Joe doesn’t fit well in the family but is respected for his brilliant but tough business sense.  In the end Joe loses everything as there is no place for him in any of the worlds he knows.  It is a sad story, perhaps because Dennis Lehane really is chronicling the end of an era.  Really, the end of a risky world based on fear and exploitation.

I have tremendous respect for Dennis Lehane as a writer and consider him brilliant in the whole Patrick Kenzie series. Stephen King claims ‘World Gone By’ is the best gangster novel since ‘The Godfather.’  I just didn’t get that feeling. I certainly won’t stop reading Lehane but this was not his best work.


Excerpts from the novel:

LIFE – Men had built this dock.  They’d driven in the posts, they’d measured and cut, they’d drilled and hammered.  When they were finished, they were the first to ever set foot on it.  They’d felt pride – maybe not a lot, but certainly some.  They’d set out to build something, and they’d built it.  It existed because they had.  By now, they’d probably passed on.  The dock would follow Someday they’d bulldoze this motel.  Time is rented, Joe thought never owned.

WASTED – Her hair spilled down her spine, reaching almost to her lowest ribs.  Lucius always picked them that way – young with long, abundant hair.  At the start.  At the finish, they were always something else.  This, Joe wished he’d told Violalia a year ago, is how unbridled dreams often end – bridled beyond hope.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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