Dennis Lehane has written a series of books about private detectives, but his latest goes in a different direction. It’s essentially a nuanced and insightful character study, combining the best of literary fiction with elements of psychological suspense and the thriller genre.
“Since We Fell”
by Dennis Lehane
(Ecco, 452 pp., $27.99)
Dennis Lehane made his mark as a young writer with a series of addictive books starring private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. He hit the big leagues with best-selling stand-alone novels like “Mystic River,” “Shutter Island,” and a brilliant historical epic, “The Given Day.”
Having always wanted to write a gangster story, the prolific Lehane then created an absorbing trilogy about a Boston criminal named Joe Coughlin. (Lehane, a native of Boston, has set most of his books in or around there.)
Many of Lehane’s novels have been turned into excellent movies, such as one of the Kenzie/Gennaro stories, “Gone Baby Gone,” and one of the Coughlin tales, “Live by Night.”
The author of “Since We Fell” will appear at 7 p.m. June 7 at Elliott Bay Book Co., elliottbaybook.com or 206-624-6600.
And if all this isn’t enough, consider also Lehane’s highly productive spell as one of the main writers on the powerful HBO series “The Wire.”
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His new book, “Since We Fell,” takes off in yet another new direction for a writer already well established as a full-service novelist. Set again in contemporary Boston, “Since We Fell” is essentially a nuanced and insightful character study, combining the best of literary fiction with strong, compelling elements of psychological suspense and the thriller genre. Toss in Lehane’s formidable but unpretentious prose and you’ve got a major winner.
Rachel Childs, once a prominent and fast-rising TV journalist, has hit a very rough patch. While covering the 2000 earthquake in Haiti, she loses her objective reporting skills and suffers a very public, on-air meltdown.
Fast forward a few years. The aftermath of her disaster, even after all this time, has left her emotionally crippled, and the public nature of her failure has given her the kind of celebrity no one would ever want. As a result, Rachel’s career is dead and she has become an agoraphobic, self-loathing, but still somehow appealing recluse.
This fear of being out in public, and her struggle to become a strong person again, becomes the book’s subtle core as she tries to handle — and gradually leave — her stunted existence.
Meanwhile, despite — or because of — her problems, the former reporter continues to pursue a longstanding mission to learn the identity of her biological father (something Rachel’s force-of-nature mother always refused to divulge).
The search puts her in touch with a private eye, Brian Delacroix. Brian advises her not to continue her quest, saying that he would just be taking her money to no avail. But she keeps running into Brian, they form a friendship, and in time she falls hard for him.
They marry and Brian proves to be a sympathetic, romantic mate, encouraging the wounded ex-journalist to deal with her fears and helping her through the process. In fact, he’s incredibly supportive, to use the word “incredible” in the sense that his selfless compassion is hard to believe. This becomes abundantly clear as Rachel begins to realize that Brian is — well, not what he seems to be.
And, as we know from the book’s opening sentence, things aren’t going to work out well.