Darkness, Take My Hand

Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane

Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane

A well known Boston psychiatrist has been receiving threats and promptly hires private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro to look into the source.  What starts out as a simple task turns into a violent bloodbath as Kenzie and Gennaro’s world comes undone.

Dennis Lehane is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.  Where do I even start with this one?  Darkness, Take My Hand takes everything about the first novel – A Drink Before the War – and improves upon it, which I didn’t think was even possible.  Lehane simply refuses to give Patrick and Angela even the slightest break following the events of the last novel before shoving them through a proverbial thresher of violence.

The way in which Darkness, Take My Hand unfolds is what I love about crime fiction.  The story moves along like a pot of water threatening to boil – there’s just so much going on at all times that there’s no way to simmer down the tension.  Even the extensive dialogue scenes where Kenzie is sitting around bullshitting with other detectives and clients invokes such stress among the characters that you never feel far from everything simply coming undone.

What makes a great detective series?  An interesting and compelling cast, first and foremost.  Sure, the plot itself is integral, but you’re not going to be able to maintain a certain quality without making your readers invest in characters that make the outcomes matter. Obviously you have Kenzie and Gennaro, both deeply flawed individuals, but they’re joined by a stellar cast of friends, family and associates.  These characters raise the stakes and make the reader question Kenzie and Gennaro’s true intentions throughout the story.

Seeing that the series is only six books long (pretty short for a modern detective saga), I wonder just how run down and beaten Lehane plans to leave Patrick and Angela when all the dust settles.  I’m only two books in and I worry about their mental state.

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