Review: World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

Tuesday 5 May 2015
Title: World Gone By (Joe Coughlin, #3)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: 7th May 2015
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781408706695
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
The brilliantly dark new masterpiece from the acclaimed author of Shutter Island and The Given Day

Joe Coughlin is untouchable. Once one of America's most feared and prominent gangsters, he now moves effortlessly between the social elite, politicians, police and the mob. He has everything he could possibly want; money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity.

But in a town that runs on corruption, vengeance and greed, success can't protect Joe from the dark truth of his past -- and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full...

Chilling, heart-breaking and gripping, this is the most complex and powerful novel to date from Dennis Lehane.

World Gone By is the third Joe Coughlin novel, and despite having not read the first, I would say that the second, Live By Night, is essential reading before picking up World Gone By. Having a greater understanding of Joe, and what has got him to the place he is today will definitely enrich the reading experience and I imagine those that read this book without reading Live By Night, will only end up wishing that they had.

The first real standout thing about this series is Joe Coughlin. Described as one of America's most feared and prominent gangsters, untouchable. As with most films and books in this genre, I find myself, whether rightly or wrongly, liking our main character. Perhaps because it's fiction, but even in real life figures like him in the Mafia and the underworld have long commanded respect and admiration, despite the often vicious acts those and their associates carry out. There is such a brilliant mix of characters across the series, far too many to sit and discuss here but all of whom help shape the novel into a believable portrayal of the time, a story well-researched by Dennis Lehane, bringing real authenticity to the novel.

Something else I enjoyed about the series is, as with most of Lehane's books, is the effortless way in which he captures his settings, allowing the book to play out vividly in my mind, almost like a film. And like with any great film or book, World Gone By is packed full of brilliant quotes and anecdotes. Memorable lines that stick in your mind long after finishing the novel. A book by Lehane is of course made for a film, and even while reading World Gone By, I found myself picturing how certain scenes would play out on the screen, and the atmospheric way in which music would be used to enhance particular moments in the story.

The final thing I will pick up on is how Lehane managed to make World Gone By different to Live By Night, rather than it being a predictable rehash of what came before. This time around I finished the book with a real sense of just what it means to be part of the world that Joe and these characters mix in, and, as the story progressed, I developed a greater understanding of the consequences that living this life brings. The blurb does give away a couple of hints as to how the story will progress, and I will admit to being a little surprised at how it did progress, certainly towards the end.

Overall another winner from Lehane, and as I rate books based on my enjoyment of them, I enjoyed this book a lot and so will not sit here and pick it apart like some might do, but simply say that I read it, I loved it, and I definitely recommend it.


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