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Though there's an unseemly lack of subtlety to Lehane's sex scenes and violent set pieces, the passion of his neighborhood nightmare can hardly be denied. And he's created a villain who's both surprising and grimly fascinating: The kind of figure one hates but can't stop reading about.
Three days ago, on the first official night of winter, a guy I grew up with, Eddie Brewer, was one of four people shot in a convenience store. Robbery was not a motive. The shooter, James Fahey, had recently broken up with his girlfriend, Laura Stiles, who was a cashier on the four-to-twelve shift. At eleven fifteen, as Eddie Brewer filled a styrofoam cup with ice and Sprite, James Fahey walked through the door and shot Laura Stiles once in the face and twice in the heart.
Then he shot Eddie Brewer once in the head and walked down the frozen food aisle and found an elderly Vietnamese couple huddling in the dairy section. Two bullets each for them, and James Fahey decided his work was complete.
He walked out to his car, sat behind the wheel, and taped the restraining order Laura Stiles and her family had successfully filed against him to the rearview mirror. Then he tied one of Laura's bras around his head, took a pull from a bottle of Jack Daniel's, and fired a bullet into his mouth.
James Fahey and Laura Stiles were pronounced dead at the scene. The elderly Vietnamese man died en route to Carney Hospital, his wife a few hours later. Eddie Brewer, however, lies in a coma, and while doctors say his prognosis isn't good, they also admit his continued existence is all but miraculous.
The press have been giving that description a lot of play lately, because Eddie Brewer, never anything close to a saint when we were growing up, is a priest. He'd been out jogging the night he was shot, dressed in thermals and sweats, so Fahey didn't know his vocation, though I doubt it would have mattered much. Butthe press, sensing both a nostalgia for religion so close to the holidays, and a fresh spin on an old story, played his priesthood for all it was worth.
TV commentators and print editorialists have likened Eddie Brewer's random shooting to a sign of the apocalypse. and around-the-clock vigils have been held at his parish in Lower Mills and outside the Carney. Eddie Brewer, an obscure cleric and a completely unassuming man, is heading for martyrdom, whether he lives or not.
None of this has anything to do with the nightmare that descended on my life and that of several others in this city two months ago, a nightmare that left me with wounds the doctors say have healed as well as can be expected, even though my right hand has yet to regain most of its feeling, and the scars on my face sometimes burn under the beard I've grown. No, a priest getting shot and the serial killer who entered my life and the latest "ethnic cleansing" being wrought in a former Soviet republic or the man who shot up an abortion clinic not far from here or another serial killer who's killed ten in Utah and has yet to be caught-none of it is connected.
But sometimes it feels like it is, as if somewhere there's a thread to all these events, all these random, arbitrary violence's, and that if we can just figure out where that thread begins, we can pull on it, unravel everything, make sense of it.
Since Thanksgiving, I've grown the beard, the first one of my life, and while I keep it trimmed, it continues to surprise me in the mirror every morning, as if I spend my nights dreaming of a face that is smooth and unruptured by scars, flesh that is clean the way only a baby's is, skin untouched by anything but sweet air and a mother's tender caresses.
The office-Kenzie/Gennaro Investigations-is closed, gathering dust I assume, maybe the first stray cobweb in a corner behind my desk, maybe one behind Angie's too. Angie's been gone since the end of November, and I try not to think about her. Or Grace Cole. Or Grace's daughter, Mae. Or anything at all.
Mass has just ended across the street, and with the unseasonably warm weather-still in the low forties, though the sun's been down for ninety minutes-most of the parishioners mill about outside, and their voices are sharp in the night air as they wish each other good cheer and happy holidays. They remark on the strangeness of the weather, how erratic it's been all year, how summer was cold and autumn warm and then just as suddenly bitter and icy, how no one should be surprised if Christmas morning were to bring a Santa Ana and a mercury reading in the seventies.
Someone mentions Eddie Brewer, and they speak about it for a moment, but a brief one, and I sense they don't want it to spoil their festive mood. But, oh, they say, what a sick, crazy world. Crazy is the word, they say, crazy, crazy, crazy.
I spend most of my time sitting out here lately. From the porch, I can see people, and even though it's often cool out here, their voices keep me here as my bad hand stiffens with cold and my teeth begin to chatter.
In the mornings, I carry my coffee out, sit in the brisk air and look across the avenue to the schoolyard and watch the small boys in their blue ties and matching blue pants and the small girls with their plaid skirts and glinting barrettes run around the yard. Their sudden shrieks and darting movements, their seemingly bottomless supply of frenetic energy, can be wearying or invigorating depending on my mood. When it's a bad day, those shrieks tide my spinal column like chips of broken glass. On good days, though, I get a flush of something that may be a memory of what it was like to feel whole, when the simple act of breathing didn't ache.
The issue, he wrote, is pain. How much I feel, how much I parcel out.
He came during the warmest, most erratic autumn on record, when the weather seemed to have flipped completely off its usual course, when everything seemed upside down, as if you'd look at a hole in the ground and see stars and constellations floating at the bottom, turn your head to the sky and see dirt and trees hanging suspended. As if he had his fingers on the globe, and he slapped it, and the world-or at least my portion of it-spun.
Sometimes Bubba or Richie or Devin and Oscar drop by, sit out here with me and we talk about the NFL playoffs or the college bowls or the latest movies in town. We didn't talk about this past autumn or Grace and Mae. We don't talk about Angie. And we never talk about him. He's done his damage, and there's nothing left to say.
The issue, he wrote, is pain.
Those words-written on a piece of white, 8X11 copy paper-haunt me. Those words, so simple, sometimes seem as if they were written in stone.
Copyright ) 1997 by Dennis Lehane
Posted August 25, 2009
I Also Recommend:
This is by far my favorite book ever. I have read all of Lehane's work and he is my favorite author. This story was the most addicting of all of his books for me, which is saying alot. The man is a master of the detective fiction novel and his PI's Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are so realistic and well written that it is easy to think of them as real people.
This story is incredible because of the dark and violent tone of brutality and loss. Lehane makes this novel so fast paced and addicting that I have read it atleast 5 times since buying it and will definitely read it more.
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Posted January 26, 2014
Posted June 8, 2013
Posted April 7, 2013
I am a fan of the mystery/detective/drama genre. Nothing I enjoy more than a good, tightly woven story. But my OWN particular personality defects prevent me from becoming totally involved, (or engrossed/committed -take your pick), in the tale if the author himself fails to present HIS plot in an unimpeachable, water-tight fashion that I, as the reader, am prevented from asking myself - "Well, wait a minute.... Why would they actually DO (or NOT do) this......"
It HAS to make sense! It HAS to pass the smell-test for me, or I am then, @ that point, just skimming it to finish it and be done with it. And that is pretty much how THIS plot is constructed, in my view......
One example of many: So they've got a plan and are intent on catchin the BoogeyMan; on the night they're lying in wait and gonna catch him and save the city, they lose focus by having sex and lighting candles all over the stake-out location and, uh,... he kinda gets away! Damnit Jim!
Trying not to give anything away here, but.... Yeah, put me down as dissapointed. And I wish I could have read a review indicating as much so I could have saved my self some time.
Posted August 7, 2012
Posted June 6, 2012
If you read a ton of books like I do, you will really like this author's style and talent at telling a story. The characters are totally believable. The story is woven with many twists and turns and will have you guessing until the very end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2012
Posted February 15, 2012
Posted January 31, 2012
Posted December 15, 2011
Posted November 22, 2011
Posted September 25, 2011
Posted September 13, 2011
I'm exhausted! This story is so tight and driven that it's almost impossible to put it down! Kenzie and Gennaro have that edge that can only be developed when good people grow up on the rough side of town...they know where the line between good and evil is, but can't keep from walking along it...sometimes even poking a toe across! Their humanity is tangible! This time, they even fear that the Darkness is about to consume them and in some respects, it does. When confronted with a greater evil, however, they realize that all of us have capabilities that we'd rather not acknowledge! The antagonists in Darkness are pure EVIL and the story takes a turn down the psychological road to tkake a look at the question of whether evil is born or created...or both. I can't recommend this book enough, but be warned...there'll be a few sleepless nights ahead of you!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2011
This is edge-of-your-seat stuff, folks; Darkness, Take My Hand left me feeling as drained and weary as the main characters must have felt at the end of their ordeal. There is no slow part to this book. It's all action, and just when you think that Patrick or Angie is safe, just when you think that they've maybe bought themselves a moment's respite, BAM! Everything's gone further to hell. Lehane's writing style is crisp, snappy, and well-paced, which serves to make an already good plot even richer and more exciting to the reader. I think that one of the reasons I truly appreciate Lehane's style of prose is because he writes how someone (such as myself) might think: not too profound, not too simple. This is especially useful as the main POV is in first person present, and so it provides a very realistic narrative that draws the reader in and keeps them focused on the task at hand. Lehane isn't heavy-handed with his descriptions, either, and yet manages to come up with on-the-nose and almost poetic ways to portray scenes without coming across as verbose or pretentious. The main characters aren't the bad guys, of course. But they tread that very fine line in their quest to find the true villains. Once or twice they teeter dangerously close to the edge, close enough to peek over and see the darkness that lies on the other side of that line, and maybe even allow it to seep into their hearts for a time. Lehane expertly crafts two protagonists both complex and imperfect, so grittily real that the book feels less like a work of fiction and more of a docudrama, drawing parallels to such television series as The Wire, and equally as harrowing in its scope. If the protagonists are compelling, then the antagonists are absolutely bone-chilling. Cold-blooded, no conscience, born to reave and rape, to raze the Boston suburbs to the ground in the bloodiest way possible. I've never been a fan of violence in books, probably because I see enough of it on the news every day, but I understand that in this case, the violence Lehane describes his villains commit is an important contrast against the doings of his protagonists. And what turns this book into a pseudo-horror book, at least for me, is how very human all these killings and acts of violence are. It makes you take a good, hard look at society today and at all the sickos that are out there, preying on the innocent every minute of every day. It's disturbing, and to capture that so well in text signifies excellent writing. Exciting from the first, Darkness, Take My Hand keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing until the close of the book. You're taken on the same nerve-racking journey as the main characters, and by the conclusion there's no doubt that Lehane is one of the definitive writers of the neo-noir genre.
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Posted July 23, 2011
Lehane just gets better and better! Found this author at Mystic River and decided to give this series a try. After really liking the first book i'm pleasantly shocked how much more i liked this book. The story was so gripping that I was exhausted by the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2011
My husband's just read number four in Dennis LeHane's Kenzie and Gennaro series; he insisted it was time I caught up with him. I'd only read the first book so far-A Drink before Dying-so I picked up Darkness take my hand, number two, and admired the author's choice of titles before starting to read. After starting to read I admired his wordcraft too; evocative descriptions of streets and scenes; convincing depictions of deep characters-no cardboard cutouts here; cleverly revealed backstories with picture-perfect timing; internal dialog that pulls the reader in to search each scene for answers as desperately as the character himself; and convincing conversations you can almost hear.
Is Boston really such a dangerous place? I don't know; I've never been there. But the streets Dennis LeHane creates seem as real as any I've know; the characters walk off the page to gaze from streetcorners; and the whole tale haunts me. Darkness take my hand is a very dark tale, definitely not for the squeamish, but it's wonderfully told and wholly un-put-down-able. A twisted mystery, a psychological thriller, a gritty tale of real people and real streets. In the end, it's simply a really good read, and I'm looking forward to starting number three as soon as my read-and-review pile shrinks a little lower.
Disclosure: I read this because my husband told me to. My husband has good taste in books.
Posted April 10, 2011
I absolutely love this series so far! This is the second installment and it was absolutely thrilling and at times terrifying. Beware: this novel is not for the timid. The serial killer does the most inhumane and terrible things that I found myself getting scared as I was reading it in the middle of the night. But Lehane is a great writer that keeps you guessing and glued to the page. Enjoy...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2011
Posted December 13, 2010
Posted August 18, 2010
I Also Recommend:
The second novel in Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series is just as excellent as the first novel, A Drink Before the War. This novel confirmed my beliefs that this is one of my favorite mystery series today, including the Harry Bosch series and the DC Quartet by George Pelecanos. The novel was great. Many parts were very disturbing and violent and kept me up reading all night. I would defiantly recommend this entire series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.