World traveler Bob Moyer sometimes finds it hard to stay home long enough to write a review, but recently he touched down in Winston-Salem long enough to dish this one out.
By Robert Moyer
MOONLIGHT MILE. By Dennis Lehane. William Morrow. 324 pages. $26.99.
It’s been 12 years since Patrick and Angie found the baby in Gone Baby Gone. They sent the baby back to her negligent mother, and her uncle and his wife to jail for trying to save her. After that book, Lehane went from being a series writer to being a serious writer; his book Mystic River became a bestseller and a big movie as well. Subsequently, he has been anointed the dean of the “new noir.” His fans have been waiting for him to return to the Boston series that made him popular; this book should satisfy them.
A lot has happened in the lives of the two detectives, on-again-off-again lovers who disagreed violently over his decision to return the baby. In this latest episode, they have married and had a child, a toddler now. Times are tough for them; he’s trying to make ends meet by working for a high-end law firm, hoping to get full-time status, and she’s a student. Oh — and the baby has disappeared again.
She’s not a baby anymore, but a self-assured young lady who seems to have designed her disappearance. Patrick doesn’t hesitate to take on the case again, chagrined at his earlier decision. His search endangers not just his life this time, but also that of his family, as he encounters meth dealers, a crazed Russian crime boss, a defrocked doctor now dealing in babies, and a whimsical mobster who seems the most sinister of all.
Nevertheless, in the midst of all the danger, Lehane makes sure that Patrick makes time to discuss with the now-grown baby the situational versus societal ethics that brought them together again. It takes more than a few twists and turns to get them out alive, but Lehane manages with a modicum of mayhem, and only the offstage sounds of power saws disposing of bodies.
By insisting on making a point, Lehane makes it hard on himself. The sexual tension in the couples’ banter loses a bit because their baby is asleep in the next room, and the novel’s noir quotient sinks under the weight of an early bedtime. Lehane handles it all quite entertainingly, but both Patrick and the reader wonder at the book’s conclusion — should he keep it up? Only time and Lehane’s inclination will tell.
Oh—and sales, too.