In GONE BABY GONE, Patrick and Angie are hired by Bea McCready and her husband, Lionel, because the Boston Police have had no luck in finding four year-old Amanda, their niece. Lionel’s sister, Helene, is a drug addict and left Amanda home alone. The child disappeared without a trace and Bea is terrified by the lack of progress. Patrick and Angie are, at first, unwilling to take on the search for Amanda but once they do, it is Patrick who finds the little girl. Lehane succeeded in telling a story that ends with no one pleased by the results.
Twelve years later, Patrick Kenzie finds Bea McCready waiting for him at the train station he uses every day to get to work. She is someone he had hoped would remain in his past. Bea has come to him because Amanda, again, has disappeared. Patrick wants nothing to do with the McCreadys, not does Angie. But Patrick and Angie are married now and the parents of a four year-old girl, a daughter the same age Amanda was when she was kidnapped. Money is tight; Patrick’s work has been hit by the recession. The Kenzie’s have no reason to get involved in another disappearance of Amanda; they have many reasons not to do so. And yet…did they really have a choice?
Patrick learns that Amanda, sixteen going on seventeen, literally, has carved a path designed to take her as far away from Dorchester, Helene, and Helene’s steady diet of drugs and boyfriends who just got out of jail. Amanda is a student at a prep school, top of her class, guaranteed entrance to any Ivy League school she chooses. Amanda has no reason to disappear and every reason not to. It is days before the Christmas break and Amanda has some exams and course work to finish before vacation begins. Not finishing the work will jeopardize the acceptances she has already received.
At the school, Patrick learns that Amanda didn’t have friends, she had followers. The most ardent of these is Sophie Corliss and she has also disappeared. If Sophie is with Amanda, it is because Amanda wants her to be. Sophie’s family has more money but they are as lethal to the safety and well-being of a teenage girl as are the McCreadys. Which girl is in more danger?
As Patrick and Angie try to find Amanda, they discover that the four year-old child has become a woman far older than her years. Amanda has a long range plan and she has been working on it for a very long time. The plan has brought into her life some crazed Russian mobsters, a baby broker, identity thieves, dealers in methamphetamines, and a fight over a thousand year-old priceless Russian icon. Who is pulling the strings? Who are the victims?
GONE BABY GONE was published in 1998 and was made into a movie by director Ben Affleck in 2007. An audience for the movie version of MOONLIGHT MILE has been created by the ties between the two books. Anyone familiar with Boston knows that Lehane gets the city, its neighborhoods, and its culture exactly right. When Bea stops Patrick at the JFK/UMASS stop on the Red Line early in the morning, their conversation is interrupted by groups of high school boys. Everyone in the Boston area knows that detail. JFK/UMASS is the stop for the 1300 or so boys who attend the Jesuit prep school, Boston College High School. Patrick and Angie grew up in Dorchester, the location of BC High, and they live there with their daughter on one of the streets of smaller single-family homes that still exist near BC High, a million miles socially and economically from the larger section of Dorchester, one of Boston’s neighborhoods. As with Charlestown and the North End that abut downtown Boston to the north, Dorchester and South Boston are neighborhoods that abut the downtown area to the south. When asked, a resident of Boston is likely to answer the question about where he lives by naming the neighborhood, not the city. That local inclination, to be a part of a neighborhood rather than the city at large, formed Patrick and Angie and Amanda. It also formed Lehane who grew up in Dorchester and graduated from BC High.
MOONLIGHT MILE is the fifth book in the Kenzie-Gennaro series. The reader can decide if it will be the last. Patrick and Angie live their lives by a strict code that serves their view of the world and their responsibilities in it and to it. Lehane is gifted writer who places his characters in moral quandaries that can happen anywhere when money is tight, drugs are available, and survival of the fittest is played out every day in every neighborhood.
Given Lehane’s track record and Ben Affleck’s love of the neighborhoods around Boston, the reader should grab a copy of MOONLIGHT MILE and enjoy the book before it comes to a theater near you.