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August 17, 2007 / C.T. Henry

Best HARD-BOILED Mystery I’ve Read in a Long Time

Gone Baby GoneNot for the faint-of-heart, this is intense, violent hard-boiled fiction at its best. Four-year-old Amanda McCready is abducted when her neglectful mother leaves her home alone. Since Boston PD’s investigation hasn’t turned up any leads, Amanda’s aunt hires P.I.s Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro to look into the case. They discover that the mother helped steal money from a drug dealer, which leads them to think that Amanda was kidnapped in retaliation. Then a second child disappears.

Since Patrick and Angie are lovers as well as business partners, the case tests their relationship. Amanda’s abduction also puts a tremendous strain on the close-knit community where Patrick and Angie grew up . With such dark undertones, characters, like Bubba and Cheese, provide refreshing comic relief. However, the strength of this mystery lies in Lehane’s memorizing narrative, which is gut-wrenching and yet emotionally satisfying. The intricate plot builds to a tantalizing climax, leading readers to ponder questions of morality and social responsibility long after the book’s final pages. This is more than just your usual mystery book. As one reviewer put it: “The book is hard to put down, and harder to shake when you finish it.” (Brett Benner)

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