Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gone Story Gone: A Treatise on Unnecessary Sequels

I read Gone Baby Gone a couple of years ago, when I first came down off my high horse and decided to read an American (as opposed to British, duh) mystery.  Dennis Lehane is a decent storyteller.  I enjoyed Gone, despite the occasional tangents into the rocky relationship between the two main characters, detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genarro - Lehane knows how to rock those Boston stereotypes.  They fought, made up, loved each other, metaphorically tore each other's hair out.  I couldn't stand hearing about it, and I skimmed those parts, grateful every time I hit another chapter about the compelling central story.

Moonlight Mile, which suffers from the same misguided mystery author notion that we're interested in the people investigating the central story, could not be saved in the same way as its predecessor.  I picked it up on CD to entertain me during an 8 hour drive.  It's the continuation of Amanda McCready's story; now sixteen, she has yet again disappeared, and Kenzie and Genarro, together again (who cares) with an adorable daughter named Gabriella and financial troubles (again, who cares) are on the case...eventually.  I can't ballpark this in pages, but not until Disc 2 did I hear much about Amanda.  Before this, I suffered through discussions of financial troubles, Kenzie wrapping up PI cases that did not involve anything saucy or relevant, and Kenzie being beaten up by a bunch of gangsters.

Once the story started (disc 3/7), I hung on and readied myself for the suspense to watch over me.  I appreciated the reader's hilarious and apparently accurate Russian accent.  I enjoyed car chases, cringed at phone calls with Gabriella (a grown man doing a little girl's voice is always creepy), mentally wagged my finger at meth heads, and skulked through the dark with Patrick until I came to the conclusion the the plot had an agenda - it wanted to wrap up this girl's story in a symbolic fashion.  Despite its gritty and atmospheric depiction of Boston's criminal underworld (Lehane's strong suit), the characters themselves displayed an unnatural sentimentality and quest for closure.  I understand that like any genre, a mystery won't play out like real life, but I expect respect for the rules of the world.  Lehane knows better; he's shown better; and I'd turn to his earlier works in order to see him at his fast-paced best.


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