I've read this book for the first time in Sept-Oct. of 2011 (see review hereafter). This time around I've listened to the Audio version (audible.com) and the impact of the story is the same: this is and remains an amazing narrative of a specific tumultuous time in the city of Boston. A huge round of applause for Michael Boatman who did a fantastic job bringing to life so flawlessly the many different characters that are featured. He did a great job with all the accents!
The minute I read other reviews of this book, I couldn’t wait to read it. So after work I hurried to the local library. I knew I had to read it. And boy, am I thrilled I did!
This book is a dazzling historical read about what the city of Boston went through in 1918-1919: Spanish Influenza (the grippe), social unrest (anarchists, Bolsheviks...) and the horrible working conditions of so many laborers and workers, but especially of the Boston Police Department. Two young men are pivotal characters: Danny, a beat cop, rebelling against his strong police captain father, and a young African-American, Luther, who hooks up with the wrong crowd in Tulsa, finds himself in quite a bit of trouble and ends up ‘in hiding” in Boston. I truly enjoyed Luther and Danny’s friendship that forms through the pages. There are around 20 other important characters, all multi-layered and craftily fleshed out, some so obviously mean and vicious (Eddie McKenna, commissioner Curtis, mayor Peeters to only name a few), and then some good-hearted and genuine people like the Giddreaux, and sweet young Joe. It’s sad to say that the scale of bad people tips the good one. Beyond any doubt, Luther was my favorite character; flawed, compassionate, strong, and loyal.
When I start a new book I’m always looking to be fully immersed into a new world or to be swept away into a big new adventure, and certainly, that’s what I experienced here – Dennis Lehane is a good story-teller and writer – imagery of early 20th century metropolitan life are painted in a strong and bold language, and the meditation on the historical and cultural reality that is Boston it is absolutely superb. This is an exceptional book offering us a vivid tale of the struggle and the sacrifice of the generations that precede us in order to give us the good life we have today. My only minor point of criticism would be the length of the book. There’s so much information! And it’s absolutely very interesting. Still, trimming a few scenes here and there would’ve have made the reading experience even more blissful and enrapturing.
Overall a stunning read.