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Publisher's Summary

Boston, 1926. The ‘20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa's Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.

©2012 Dennis Lehane (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    319
  • 4 Stars
    285
  • 3 Stars
    112
  • 2 Stars
    36
  • 1 Stars
    14

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    341
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    234
  • 3 Stars
    63
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    18
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    8

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
    230
  • 3 Stars
    106
  • 2 Stars
    33
  • 1 Stars
    12
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Lehane shows off his skills.

Dennis Lehane knows how to write. I wish he knew when to stop. The first half of this book is the former; the second half the latter. In Part 1 he sets up a good plot among a bunch of gangsters and prison inmates and crime families. There is a cherche the femme aspect of the plot, of course. There is a guy who controls his empire from inside prison walls. So far, so good, However, Part 2 becomes a giant cliche, with the bad guys blasting each others' heads off, along with deathless dialogue. The plot bogs down and sinks into the mire. We begin to forget who is who, and we begin to not give a sh...
Lehane is capable of better than this. I think maybe the pressure to produce a "blockbuster" with each new book presses him to prove Mae West wrong: too much of a good thing is not
great.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

First 14 hours were great then

If you could sum up Live by Night in three words, what would they be?

creative insightful wordsmith

Would you be willing to try another book from Dennis Lehane? Why or why not?

I read all of his books because they are delightful to read.

Which scene was your favorite?

Pick one - the prison uprising or the feet of clay

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The devil drinks good rum

Any additional comments?

Horrible ending. Did he run out of words? Did the publisher say we gotta get this on the shelves?

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Captivating Well Told Story

Any additional comments?

Story had a good pace and was very well told. And really sucked me in. <br/>Never boring.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Stephen
  • Silver Spring, MD, United States
  • 03-12-13

Perfect!

Would you listen to Live by Night again? Why?

I don't generally listen to a book more than once but if I were one to do that, this would certainly be one I would read again.

Any additional comments?

I can't wait for his next book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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bad narrator choice

Maybe it's great writing, though I doubt it; some of the lines were so hackneyed they made me laugh. This wasn't helped by Jim Frangione's melodramatic lilt, which made it all sound like a very bad SNL sendup. Maybe I'd have been able to take it seriously with another narrator, but not with this one.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story
  • Linda
  • Dumont, NJ, United States
  • 11-04-12

Hits All The High Notes!

I have read all of Dennis Lehane's books and this is by far the best one yet! The black sheep son who becomes a seasoned gangster with love and "demon rum" along the way.
Lehane elevates the story by taking it out of Boston and New York City and luring the reader to Tampa and Cuba where the unexpected await. I thought the narrator was very good...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

The question I had about this one is GONE!

If you could sum up Live by Night in three words, what would they be?

Wonderful pacing,characterization.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Live by Night?

I can think of 5 or 6, but to have one SO close to the end that was so unexpected, yet fitting was great.

What about Jim Frangione’s performance did you like?

I liked everything about Jim Frangione's performance. What I did not like was a review that complained about his performance. One of my key measures (of over 500 titles) is how much/often I simply don't notice someone is reading/performing and simply get lost in the story. If not for the cruel, stupid review I saw elsewhere, I'd never have noticed him at all. It was a masterful job considering the size and scope of the story and the myriad characters and accents involved. I may go listen to something else he did just to check him out more. As a first listen, I have to give him 4 out of 5 GuidallStars.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many more than I expected. Probably 6 or 7 that would all be spoilers, I guess the first one was the near-opening scene of "feet in cement".

Any additional comments?

Dennis was close to having my "Prayer Review" One more like this and he gets it. (Yeah, I'm full of myself today but I have probably earned it.)

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 04-07-15

You may like this, sadly I haven't

Dennis Lehane is a brilliant writer to whom I've given passels of stars in the past. "Live by Night" is probably better crafted with more character insight than many of his books I've previously read. But…

In the past two years since downloading "Live by Night" I've thrice restarted the work from its beginning, hoping each time it'd fire my imagination. But frankly I disliked every one of the characters in the book. I find them grim and complexly depressing. The novel begins with what appears to be the assassination of the protagonist in the first moments followed by hours of flashbacks to his path to this opening moment.

Perhaps, if it began with his execution and ended right there… Well it doesn't. And so each time I revisited "Live by Night" I gave the book another five or six hours, and each time I left these people overwhelmed by melancholy. This time I asked "Why you doing this Ted?" The answer? Hit the stop button on my iPod followed by dropping this title from the little machine.

But, you might really find this a masterpiece in characterization and sense of place (early 20th century Boston among others). A masterpiece masterfully performed by Jim Frangione. If so…

Me, I'm off to enjoy shallower characters with socially redeeming characteristics that overwhelm their ability to coat my feelings in a thick syrup of darkness. Call me an optimist while I call "Live by Night" sadder than a pessimist who finds his dark dreams come true.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Not all that impressed

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would not receommend this book to anyone except someone who's already a Dennis Lehane fan. I found it long and not terribly engaging.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Start over.

What about Jim Frangione’s performance did you like?

The narrator did a good job with the voices.

Did Live by Night inspire you to do anything?

No

Any additional comments?

We got this book to listen to on a long drive from Chicago to Florida, thinking it would be compelling. Not. We were both waiting to get really drawn in, but that really never happened. We finished it only because we'd put so many hours into listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fun Noir

This book takes off a little slow, then clicks along in a gritty, vintage wise-guy style for most of the book - appealing, street-wise, intellectual anti-hero surrounded by lunky gangsters. Evocative settings during Prohibition, in prison, in Ybor City during rum-running's height. Nice look at the changes organized crime had to make to adapt to the end of Prohibition. Good characters. Ends a little abruptly, but I am now looking for another one by this author. Narrator does a good job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful