Written by Dennis Lehane

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 27 crime and spy thrillers. 'Death at the Old Asylum', the 8th title in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, currently in ebook, comes out in paperback on the 14th March via Canelo Books. More information:

Little Brown
RRP: £16.99
Released: 3rd February 2011

 It’s been a long twelve years since Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro hit the streets of Boston. Twelve years older, but not necessarily wiser, Patrick and Angie are now almost a conventional married couple, right down to their own .4, Gabby. Now, instead of their own PI business, Patrick is working odd-jobs for a security company, waiting for a full-time position and all the economic and health benefits that will bring, while Angie is training to be a special needs teacher.

 Then a piece of history comes calling. Amanda McCready, the 4-year-old who went missing all those years ago (in Gone, Baby, Gone) and caused them so much grief, has gone missing again. And Patrick is expected to go find her, because, in most people’s judgement, he shouldn’t have rescued her in the first place from the uncle and aunt who kidnapped her last time (for her own good) and handed her back to her neglectful and abusive mother. But that’s a moral question he’s been living with ever since.

 Trouble is, Patrick is torn by the needs of his family, his attempts to get a steady job, and a steady weariness in a fast-changing world. He and Angie are feeling their years, examining their position in life and finding it tough, especially now they’ve got Gabby to consider. But you can’t keep a good duo down, and they soon manage to talk each other round to doing the right thing.

 This isn’t the same old Patrick and Angie, however. Realism has set in along with the years and Patrick has lost his edge. The bad guys are younger, faster, nastier and hungrier than before; they don’t know Patrick Kenzie and could care even less… and he knows it. He also knows he has got too much to lose by tangling with the wrong people.

 Especially people like Russian mobster Kirill Borzakov and his gunmen, Yefim and Pavel.

 Amanda, he discovers, has gone on the run after stealing a rare and valuable artefact called the Belarus Cross, and a baby belonging to her friend Sophie. The Cross doesn’t belong to Borzakov, but he thinks it does. The baby has been promised to his wife, Violetta, but she is as mad as a snake and should be declared a toxic child-free zone. Borzakov doesn’t care, though – he’s hooked on snorting his own drugs and will kill everyone to get the baby and the Cross back.

 The one bright spot in Patrick’s firmament is Bubba Rogowski, his psychopath of a friend, and here at least, nothing has changed. Bubba demonstrates that his uncompromising attitude to anyone crossing his friends has not diminished. If anything, it’s fired up even more now he is ‘uncle’ to little Gabby, and Borzakov threatens to do her harm.

 The main characters here are as engaging as ever, the action as tense, the situation just as fraught on all sides. And there’s a wealth of attraction in the subsidiary characters, too, such as Dre, a once-doctor who trades in unwanted babies and takes too much medication; Amanda McCready, who is too cool for her own good; and Yefim, the almost likeable Russian killer with a neat line in chat and his own agenda.

 My only reservation was a personal one (and therefore not one I lay at Mr Lehane’s door in any way). I just don’t like familiar heroes growing older and slowing down. Heroes should go on, stepping blithely through doors which we ourselves wouldn’t dare open (or couldn’t), with a smile on their lips, a song in their heart and a mate called Bubba bringing up the rear. Unrealistic, perhaps, but there you go. However, in this excellent book, it’s definitely a case of a door closing rather than opening, and this time for good…

 Shame. But a great read.

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