“This is a stunning epic of a young Irish gangster coming up in the vicious underworld of the Prohibition era who carries the loaded pedigree of being the son of the Boston police chief. Knocked off his game by his first great love, he falls prey to the Italian mob boss who makes him his own and then punishes him for his success. From Charlestown to Tampa to Havana, this stay-up-all-night page-turner is rich in both history and suspense.”
— Elizabeth Houghton Barden, Big Hat Books, Indianapolis, IN
Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.
Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.
But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no oneneither family nor friend, enemy nor lovercan be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.
Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa's Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. 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. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.
“LIVE BY NIGHT is Crime Noir 101, as taught by the best of its current practitioners. . . . A sentence-by-sentence pleasure. You are in the hands of an expert. And you’ll know it.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times
“LIVE BY NIGHT transcends the familiar and assumes an unimpeachable reality of its own. . . . [A] meticulously crafted portrait of our violent national past.”
-Washington Post Book World
“Lehane’s novel carves its own unique place in the Prohibition landscape. . . . This is an utterly magnetic novel on every level, a reimagining of the great themes of popular fiction—crime, family, passion, betrayal—set against an exquisitely rendered historical backdrop.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Masterful. . . . Lehane has created a mature, quintessentially American story that will appeal to readers of literary and crime fiction alike.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)