Gone, Baby, Gone


Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis LehaneGuest Reviewer: Ronnie Kutys

Author: Dennis Lehane
Publisher: Harper (2011)
Number of Pages: 512
How long it took me to read: 5 hours
Where I bought this book: Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio (2011)
ISBN: 9780061998874

Like a Moth to a Flame

I have seen Dennis Lehane’s books for years working in a bookstore, but never bothered to pick one up, for no other reason than having too many other things to read. I know that three of his novels were turned into movies, but that almost never inspires me to pick up a book.

I attended the Books by the Banks event in Cincinnati and Mr. Lehane was one of the more famous authors there. I work for a publishing company, so I was there with a few of our authors. At Books by the Banks, each author has a stock of his or her books available that you can choose from and have signed. After avoiding his table for about two hours, I decided to finally read the back of one of his books once the line in front of his table had diminished. A child goes missing, police have no clues, and two private investigators are brought in. My immediate thought was that there really couldn’t be many twists; the private investigator would find the child, and we’d have a happy ending. However, I decided to get a copy of the book anyway. So many people love Lehane’s books and they always get good reviews; I figured he must be doing something right.

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Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “It’s in her eyes—a quick something that flashes mean and cold when someone steps over the line, touches her wrist too long, makes a sex joke that isn’t funny. And it’s in her face, the lines etched there, the weathered beauty of it, the sense of a life lived before Port Mesa that knew more dark dawns and hard facts than most of the shrimpers.” (p.2)

4. “Dalton Voy, watching that mother and son playing in the amber water, has realized a cold, simple truth: He’s never, not for one second, been loved like that in his life. Love like that? Hell. It seems so pure, it’s damn near criminal.” (p.4)

3. “In my previous experience with women, once you’ve been intimate with someone for a while, her beauty is often the first thing you overlook. Intellectually, you know it’s there, but your emotional capacity to be overwhelmed or surprised by it, to the point where it can get you drunk, diminishes. But there are still moments every day when I glance at Angie and feel a gust cleave through my chest cavity from the sweet pain of looking at her.” (p.25)

2. “We’d questioned all four men at the bar about Helene McCready, and none of them had been much help. They were older men, the youngest in his mid-thirties, but looking a decade older. They all looked Angie up and down as if she were hanging naked in a butcher’s window.” (p.54)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “Elgin Bern, Captain of Blue’s Eden, the best shrimper in Port Mesa, eventually says, What would you kill for, Rachel? Rachel smiles. She raises her scotch glass so that the fluorescent light over the pool table is reflected and trapped in the ice cubes. My family, Rachel says. And only my family. A couple of guys laugh nervously. Without a second thought, Rachel says, Without a look back. Without a moment’s pity.” (p.512)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“Lehane’s descriptions are amazing. They make me feel like I’m standing where his characters are standing. They make me feel like I’m looking at the people he’s describing. I can’t believe how easy it is to see the characters the way he describes them. I can feel Patrick’s admiration for Angie every time he looks at her. When Beatrice McCready speaks, I can sense her distaste for Helene. It’s like the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.”

“I really do not like Detective Broussard. He just seems too ready to jump into situations without considering the consequences, like when they find the missing money. Instead of turning it in, Broussard wants to orchestrate his own switch: the money for Amanda. There is a reason there are rules.

“Patrick and Angie are easy to follow in their thought process. They go along with Broussard’s plan, but it is not a plan that they originally come up with. Patrick and Angie sometimes operate outside the lines, like when they pulled their guns out in a bar and threatened to shoot four men. However, their actions reflect that they are only trying to do the right thing. Broussard, on the other hand, seems like the jock that is always trying to prove himself. Why did he and his partner give Patrick and Angie such a hard time when they first met, and then turn into the type of cops that bend the rules by orchestrating their own switch with the kidnappers?”

“When Helene McCready is first mentioned, she isn’t even in the scene; her brother brings her up in conversation with Patrick and Angie. They are discussing Amanda, Helene’s missing child. Patrick and Angie ask the intelligent question, ‘Where is Helene?’ The answer that Beatrice, the sister-in-law, gives is inexcusable. Apparently, Helene is not up to making public appearances or being at home in case someone calls for a ransom.

“When I finally read a scene with Helene in it, she is too busy drinking and watching television to even pay attention to the fact that two new people are trying to help find her daughter. Hello? Nothing should be more important than finding your child. Helene left her four-year-old daughter alone in their apartment so that she could go next door to watch television with her friend Dottie. She expresses her ‘grief’ by drinking all day and lets her friend Dottie do all the talking. This is a woman who should never have been a mother. She swears she would change if she had Amanda back, but I find that very hard to believe. She can’t even remember where her daughter is half the time!”

“What kind of life is poor Amanda living? Helen describes Amanda as a smiling, happy child. However, when Patrick and Angie watch a city softball game, they hear a different story. Everyone says she never smiles and just keeps to herself. She is shy, and quiet. Then Helene admits the last thing her daughter said to her, ‘I’m hungry.’ Where is the money? If you don’t have money, why don’t you have a job? I want to shake Helene to knock some sense into her. She is too busy picking up men, getting high, and getting drunk to take care of this poor child.”

“I heard this was made into a movie. I wonder who played Amanda. I can’t imagine a child with such sadness. Hopefully they portrayed Patrick the way I see him. Patrick is a man troubled by his past. In the first few chapters, he admits to having killed two people. Characters like Bubba, who do not feel the need to justify their actions, surround him. Patrick wants to do things the right way but at every turn, it seems like he is failing. I haven’t a clue who they could cast as Helene but I have no doubts that I would dislike the character on the screen as much as I did on the page. Beatrice is another one that I can’t actually imagine liking although, at least she cares about Amanda and her well being.”

4 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    I read Gone Baby Gone and I have started on the sequel Moonlight Mile. I found it incredible even through the eyes of a teenager. What I found very profound was the prologue and epilogue of Port Mesa and Rachel. What I can’t figure out is who’s Rachel and what does Port Mesa have to do with this. My guess is that its either Amanda in the future. I’m almost done Moonlight Mile and I still have no answers. I’m dying to find out. If anyone knows please reply.

  2. Ronnie says:

    Teta, it was definitely a fascinating read and unlike so many mysteries and thrillers that I’ve read in the past. He has a way of just hooking readers within the first few chapters.

    Conor, I read the sequel as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. The ending was very surprising to me and completely unexpected. When I think of Dennis Lehane I usually have to remind myself that it is his brilliant mind that came up with Shutter Island which is another book full of twists and turns that leaves most people questioning themselves. Happy Reading!

  3. Conor says:

    Hi Ronnie, I like your piece. I’ve just read the sequel, ‘Moonlight Mile’ 2010, which is typically thrilling for the first third. He’s the only writer I know who has utterly hooked the people I recommended him to the way he hooked me. But the way the plot develops is rather disturbing, and I’d love to hear others’ views on the ending. I found a website that lays into him interestingly, but in a distorted way.

  4. Teta Bombardieri says:

    I like detailed descriptions…. I’m curious about reading more of this book

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