Karolyn Sherwood's Reviews > Darkness, Take My Hand

Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
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's review
Jun 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks
Read from June 15 to 16, 2012

I find it interesting to read an early work by an author after you've read their later work. I'm a big fan of Dennis Lehane, and I have read/seen Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, and now this one, Darkness, Take My Hand, which was written in 1996. This is the second in Lehane's Kenzie-Gennaro detective series. I nearly put the rest of my life on hold while reading this book, but it didn't quite reach the level of Shutter Island. There were many beautiful, dramatic passages in this novel describing the weather, or voices, or friendship... dramatic right up to the tipping point of being overwritten. I wonder how Lehane views his writing in this novel today.

Point of note: I listened to this book via audible.com performed by Jonathan Davis, so I will try to separate my opinion of the reading from my opinions on Lehane's story. (For the record, Davis' performance was solid, gritty, emotional, but slightly overdone when it comes to the characters' accents and the direction of "he said" or "she said." Often times Davis held on to those phrases too long and they became cumbersome.)

First opinion: Don't give this book to your grandmother for Christmas. Brutal, gruesome, violent, and sadistically evil, are all appropriate adjectives for the work. There are also a few steamy sex scenes, but those pale in comparison to the violence committed by multiple characters. The degree to which Lehane takes the horribleness is, of course, his call, but it was a bit tough for me. I thought during this book that Lehane is probably a fan of Stephen King. That being said, the plot was gripping and compelling, and I didn't know "whodunit" until Lehane wanted me to—he skillfully dropped hints and suggestions to make the reader suspect multiple characters as possibilities. Also, I admire the way he drew out the ending. Too often the end of some novels wrap up too quickly, like the writer is tired of the story and just wants to finish the book. Lehane's "bad guy" is bad until the very end.

Second opinion: Anyone who loves a gritty, gripping mystery will love this book, even if "cellular phones" were a novelty back then. Lehane does an excellent job with his characters, making them sympathetic, flawed, brave and scared in equal parts, and emotional to the point of being quite real—at least they felt real to me—I've never actually met serial killers or even detectives. Lehane is also one of the best writers when it comes to ending chapters with hangers: time and again I would say, "I'll just read till the end of this chapter," but Lehane would drop some enticing clue that compelled me to keep reading.

Not only do I give this book 4 Stars, I'm going to read another Lehane book as soon as possible.


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06/15/2012 page 180

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