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Live by Night

(Coughlin #2)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  21,018 ratings  ·  2,278 reviews
Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream.

Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by William Morrow (first published 2012)
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Leslie Not necessary, but I thought A Given Day was much better than Live By Night, so you don't want to miss reading it.
Judith Richardson
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  21,018 ratings  ·  2,278 reviews

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Will Byrnes

The opening scene of Dennis Lehane’s Prohibition gangster tale, Live by Night has our hero, Joe Coughlin, on a tugboat, in the Gulf of Mexico, fitted for a nice set of cement footwear, while a dozen or so of his least favorite people prepare to help him into a final swim. It is from this moment that we look back over the years to 1926 to find out how Joe came to be in such peril. The first thing we see is Joe and two other petty crooks robbing a speakeasy owned by a Boston gangster. During the
Jason Koivu
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"This writer's got this"...It's nice as a reader when you realize that and can sit back and enjoy the story. Dennis Lehane is a writer who will put you in that easychair.

Live by Night was my first Lehane and midway through the first chapter I knew I was in safe hands. His writing flows, it touches on all the plot's necessary points and no more. Scenes breathe, characters grow, and the story seldom slows down.

This may not be a 5-star book for everyone. I'm giving it an extra bump up for the
I think Dennis Lehane may be a big fan of Boardwalk Empire based on this book.

In the mid-1920s, Joe Coughlin is a young man who has turned against his upbringing as the son of a legendary Boston police captain. Joe works for a local gangster and does the occasional robbery on the side. When he falls for the mistress of a rival to his boss, trouble follows, and Joe’s criminal career takes a turn that eventually finds him setting up a huge bootlegging operation in Tampa.

This is an indirect sequel
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Carmen by: LTWF
"I don't understand," Danny said softly.

"I know you don't," Joe said. "You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy's leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think there's a difference, like the banker's just doing his job but the loan shark's a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn't pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I'm sitting
Little Joe Coughlin was only a bit player in The Given Day, but here he gets an entire novel all to himself. It's not necessary to have read The Given Day first. Live By Night makes a fine stand-alone novel.

If you have read The Given Day, it will give you some understanding as to why Joe has chosen a career as a criminal. He was the neglected, often invisible youngest son. He observed how his father and brothers worked hard and lived within the law, and they were not rewarded for their pains.
J.K. Grice
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LIVE BY NIGHT was the first Lehane book I've read and it won't be the last. This book almost reads like historical fiction. Excellent characters and a very engaging story. Great novel.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Well, it started out very nice but it felt like Lehane gave up 2/3 through. And then the wrap up was very weak. I saw it immediately and it was so disappointing. If you notice I have given nothing of the story away, I'm speaking of style and development. The story had it's moments that were very delightful but they fell short with lack of believability (I hate it when that happens!). The character development I've grown accustomed to Dennis Lehane novels was only half way there (so maybe my ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When Joe Coughlin was starting out in the crime business, his boss would say to him. “The people we service? They visit the night. But we live in it. They rent what we own.” Live by Night is the second book in Dennis Lehane’s historical fiction Coughlin trilogy. While not nearly as commanding as his first, The Given Day, it still packs a punch. Many, many punches. And shots. And other things that go bump in the night.

In The Given Day, Joe is just a minor character, a boy in the shadow of his
James Thane
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Live By Night tells a broad, sweeping tale that stretches from 1926 to 1935, and from Boston to Tampa, Florida and on to Cuba. It includes a number of historical figures as well as fictional characters and follows the story that Lehane began several years ago in The Given Day.

At the center of the story is Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of Boston police captain, Thomas Coughlin. The Coughlin home was not a happy one, at least not for young Joe, who early on amused himself by doping out the
Julie Christine
There’s an element that bugged the heck out of me all the way through this novel, so let me just get it out of the way and move on, since this was a read I really enjoyed.

Despite the abundance of ideas in Live By Night, ideas which relate to the story’s era and setting: the futility of Prohibition, Jazz Age excess, bootlegging and gangland violence, racism, the Cuban émigré community in Florida - the main character, Joe Coughlin, isn’t given any real purpose or object to pursue. What are the
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
-May 2013 Awarded Edgar Award for Best Novel-
This tale chronologically tells of the rise of a main protagonist Joe, a cops son, to a position of command of many men who partake in things of an illegal criterion.

Badabing badaboom with nostalgia, a different time in history more godfather like in its climb and battle to keep power but Joe started up with no Kin in-crime, his father was a cop so he had maybe you could say a slight disadvantage to make his name in fireworks but this fact could hold
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A completely new setting for a Lehane novel for me. It starts in Boston, but spends a lot of time in Florida & even Cuba. An excellent adventure in Prohibition with great characters. A lot of close calls, sad deaths, & justice occasionally happens. Can't count on that, though. Lehane's novels are as bad as life in that respect.

I wish I hadn't listened to this before the first one, but I didn't think I had that. This contains a lot of spoilers so I don't even want to listen to that one
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Naturally all the reviews I read on this site praised the author and the novel. This is standard for every review. Reader tells what the story is about and then say what a great book it was and what a great writer the author is. I have no idea what they got out of the book. There is nothing specific except what the book is about. It's unfortunate that readers are not educated enough to explain what it is about a book that they like or maybe dislike.

I've read all of Lehane and find him to be a
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
My sincere thanks to William Morrow who provided an advanced reading copy of Live by Night which will be published October 2012.

If you look back at my book shelf you'll see I really loved Dennis Lehane's The Given Day. What I can't quite figure out is why I didn't write anything about it at the time. I thought I had. Regardless, when given the opportunity by William Morrow Publishing to read Live by Night, I was thrilled.

Live by Night is being called The Given Day #2 and does continue the story
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m addicted to Lehane’s storytelling skills, and this book supplied me with a good fix. As with Stephen King, people can debate all they want about where Lehane fits in the scheme of lasting literature, but I don’t care for that subject. I get pleasure from his ability to draw me in with complex characters I care about and to engage me in their development as they walk the line between the darkness and the light. I also appreciate his non-flashy prose, which works effectively and almost ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
IMDb - Screenplay based on Dennis Lehane’s novel

"Live by Night" movie released January, 2017 - staring Ben Affleck ( - Audience score 3.1 / 5)
I liked the book more than the movie. Other Dennis Lehane movies based on his books, "Shutter Island", "The Drop", "Gone Baby Gone", "Mystic River")

Youtube - Live by Night Movie trailer

One of my favorite actors - Ben Affleck

By 1926, Prohibition, gangsters & corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, son of Boston police captain, leads "organized
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites, 2017
Live By Night begins in the thick of the roaring 20s. The advent of prohibition has normalized corruption among the police and criminals with an explosion of illegal distilleries and speakeasies popping up all over the country. Despite the government’s best efforts to keep liquor out of the hands of the population, consumption has more than doubled. The potential to climb the ladder of organized crime has never been more attractive and Joseph Coughlin, son of prominent police officer Thomas ...more
Eddie Owens
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book started with good promise. Joe was an interesting character operating in a vividly described 1920s Boston. His father was chief of police. As you might expect in Lehane novels, Joe was a criminal protagonist.

Lehane does a good job of exploring father/son conflicts, and extends the family theme into Joe's criminal decision making. Unfortunately, the latter two thirds of the book in Tampa read like Hollywood cliche.
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is disturbing. Somebody has kidnapped terse, cynical, grimly funny Dennis Lehane, the guy who wrote a series of excellent Boston detective novels, and replaced him with a sentimental hack who writes sentences like this:

"He was starting to suspect he was in love with her. In those rare moments when the cage opened and he was invited in, he found a person desperate to trust, desperate to love, hell, desperate to live She just needed to see he was worthy of risking that trust, that love, that
While not as affecting or as memorable as The Given Day , Dennis Lehane's usual potent writing and attention to detail elevates this sort-of-sequel. Great read.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Just yesterday I was so excited to see this movie. But that ending, ugh. Don’t know if I can watch it now.

So anyway- I listened to the audio. Admittedly, I’m a terrible listener. I need stuff to do with my hands or have something to look at to be paying attention. Don’t ask. I’m quirky that way.

But! This did hold my attention and though I know I missed some parts there was a lot about it to love. The setting is beautifully told. Lehane paints a beautiful picture of prohibition/depression era
Karolyn Sherwood
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I am a big fan of Dennis Lehane's, but I'm not the target audience for this book. I agree with most of the big reviews of Live By Night: it's a high-level gangster novel, and it is very well-written. But in my opinion the plot is not necessarily fresh, and it never reaches the brilliance of Shutter Island.

Live (rhymes with give) By Night chronicles a good-hearted though misguided young man named Joe Coughlin. Lehane elevates him by making him a non-racist in a time when almost everyone else is
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
It has been a long time since I had read such a great historical crime novel. I definitely need to read more by this author.

Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is my first foray into reading Dennis Lehane. I'm not a mystery reader, generally, nor am I a fan of crime novels OR historical novels. However, with Mr. Lehane on the Board of Trustees where I work, I thought I'd give this a try. Add to that the consistent praise his work gets, I figured I would overcome my usual disinterest for the genre and give it a try.

I was suitably impressed. Dennis is a great writer, and his marvelously detailed and nuanced story of the life of an gangster... oops,
It is a tale as old as time itself: boy meets girl, boy loses girl; but this time the boy is a small-time robber and the girl is a crime boss' girlfriend.

It is a tale as old as time itself: a young man fights to earn a fortune, earns it, but in the end (view spoiler).

Live by Night reads like a coming of age story of a young man who lived with his small-time-crook-buddies in the Prohibition Era. I do need to complain that from time to times the 20 and
Jul 21, 2016 rated it liked it
As much as I liked ‘Live by Night’ – and there’s a cracking story here, expertly put together by a superb story-teller – I couldn’t help thinking that I’d seen it all before. “Seen” is the operative word, as in this post-‘Sopranos’ age (and post-‘Boardwalk Empire’ age), there’s a hell of a lot that’s really familiar. I enjoyed the various ups and downs of the young, prohibition-era, Irish-American gangster at its centre, following his path from grim violent Boston to sunny violent Florida. But ...more
Bob Mayer
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a Right Now book. Meaning my wife read it and I had to read it right now so we could discuss it. Not tomorrow or when I was less busy but drop everything because it's so good that it needs to be shared like a movie. Thankfully she doesn't read many right now books. Most are when you have time or on the plane or if it's sort of interesting--when you miss your flight. This was a are-you-done-yet, right now book. And I see why.
Once we finished the rehash over dinner, at the dog park and
Review originally found on my blog;

While Joe Coughlin is the son of a Boston Police Captain, he has long turned his back of being a moral citizen. Joe has graduated into petty crimes to high paying robberies. But when he robs a speakeasy of a Boston mobster things change for him. When the mobster kills Joe’s love, Emma, he becomes obsessed with seeking revenge. Joe works up the ladder of organised crime till he is in the right position to take his
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is interesting, to me at least, to note that Dennis Lehane, having his previous novel, "Shutter Island" adapted by Martin Scorsese, has picked up the Scorsese signature opening scene: start out at the end or 3/4's through the narrative and then aim backward. We start out with our protagonist fitted into cement boots only to lapse into the past where he runs into what he thinks is love in a woman named Emma and then tragedy strikes and soon Joe is visiting one of the most violent, ancient ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Significance of Danny's screenplay? 1 13 Jan 16, 2017 03:45PM  
Screen & Page: Live by Night 1 4 Dec 24, 2016 05:45AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Gangster book [s] 11 80 Apr 06, 2015 09:15AM  
HarperCollins Int...: Congrats, Winners of Live by Night! 1 26 Oct 05, 2012 12:34PM  

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Dennis Lehane (born Aug 4th, 1966) is an American author. He has written several novels, including the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award winning film, also called Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon (Lehane can be briefly seen waving from a car in the parade scene at the end of the film). The ...more

Other books in the series

Coughlin (3 books)
  • The Given Day (Coughlin #1)
  • World Gone By (Coughlin #3)
“What you put out into the world will always come back for you.” 18 likes
“The foundation of your life is luck. Hard work and talent make up the difference.” 16 likes
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