Terry's Reviews > Coronado: Stories

Coronado by Dennis Lehane
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's review
Sep 13, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: modernnoir
Recommended for: Lehane fans, noir fans
Read in January, 2007

Lehane writes great noir novels like Mystic River; as far as I know this is his only short story collection. Where Mystic River was concerned with cops and criminals as friends, Coronado is about criminals and fringe characters.

The most unusual story here is "Gone Down to Corpus", where some Texas high school gridiron grunts decide to "mess up" a team member who dropped the ball on the two-yard-line and cost The Team a championship. In Texas, high school footballers are worshipped as heros. LeHane's boys are mean, rat-hearted, and stupid. They start out the day with major vandalism and after a few cocktails are ready to move up the criminal ladder. The intruders are surprised when the daughter enters the house. Far from shocked, the daughter is full of fun and eggs the boys on. Quite a feat for an Easterner like LeHane to have this kind of insight into Texas.

The best story is "Until Gwen", where a couple of grifters, Bobby and Gwen, fall in love and evince desires to get out of the life and be together. But the crew is run by Bobby's vicious old man. Bobby's out of prison now after being shot twice during their last job. He can't wait to hook up with Gwen. After Bobby and his father fence around a little after Bobby is sprung, it begins to dawn on Bobby that his old man killed Gwen. Bobby and his father have a showdown over Gwen's grave. "The kind of money that stone'll bring", your father says, a man could retire". "To What?" you say. "Mexico" "To what, though?", you say. "Mean old man like you? What else you got, you ain't stealing something, killing somebody, making sure no one alive has a good fucking day?" This story resolves itself in a macabre fashion.

Sometimes a character is a solid citizen but somehow winds up on a government database. Official-looking people are enquiring about him, his friends tell him. He becomes a fugitive in a hospital and learns the ropes about "going off the grid" from an ex-KGB man he meets at the hospital.

Located everywhere and nowhere, these are ripping yarns.

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