More than just a sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone, Moonlight Mile pays homage to anyone wanting to escape a world that no longer fits him or her. Lehane named the new book in the Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro series after a song done by The Rolling Stones about a person on the road, who wants to leave the outside world and come home to loved ones and safety.
For Patrick and Angela their relationship is marred by Patrick’s decision to return little Amanda to her worthless mother twelve years ago. Angie wanted her to stay with a loving “adoptive” family. Patrick did the right thing, but not necessarily the best thing for Amanda. So when Amanda’s aunt comes calling to seek Patrick’s help when she disappears again, it brings up a lot of issues. Ironically, Patrick and Angela now have a four-year-old daughter of their own, the same age Amanda was the first time she disappeared.
Although this can be read as a stand-alone, you should consider going back to the beginning of the series with A Drink Before the War. Lehane is an excellent writer, who has gained well-deserved accolades for his stand alone thrillers turned blockbuster movies, Mystic River and Shutter Island. If you don’t want to read the entire series, it would still be beneficial to read about Amanda’s first disappearance in Gone, Baby, Gone for insight into the characters back then and now.
The Kenzie/Gennaro series is set in a mixed race working class Boston neighborhood, where the two main characters grew up. These are hard-boiled mysteries, showing the darker side of humanity. And although they may be reminiscent of Robert Crais or Michael Connelly, I enjoy the inclusiveness of women through the strong female lead. The intricate plots are as well-crafted as Harlan Coben’s work, but with an earthy, neighborhood feel to them that has a much stronger pull on his characters.
The five earlier books in the series are as much about being connected to a community, as they are about the lives of the main characters. And in Moonlight Mile we see how becoming a parent and aging puts a different spin on things, in spite of our desire to hold on to our more reckless youth. It reminds me of a phrase I read somewhere, where an older person is telling a teenager, “Yeh, I used to know everything, too, when I was your age.”