Dark Thriller: Dennis Lehane

Matchmaker Michele Hirschfeld writes:

I was so excited to see that Dennis Lehane had published a new novel, but also apprehensive about how it might compare to his 2001 novel Mystic River. Not to worry, however. Small Mercies is a gritty and blazing thriller that displays the author’s lasting talent, addressing the racism and violence in 1974 Boston after a federal judge ruled that two particular high schools would be the first to integrate. It also explores themes of corruption, power, and vengeance.

Mary Pat Fennessey’s Southie (South Boston) neighborhood consists primarily of Irish family housing projects. She had already lost her son to a heroin overdose once he returned from Vietnam, so the disappearance of her daughter, Jules, sets Mary Pat on a desperate search that brings out all of the fight and fire within her. The same night of Jules’ disappearance, a young Black man is found dead after being struck by a subway train. Both youth were to attend the high schools being integrated, but the similarities don’t end there. Meanwhile, Mary Pat’s independent sleuthing sets the Irish mob on edge, as she comes too close to discovering ruinous secrets of its own.

The ending is immensely satisfying, and I enjoyed the exciting pacing throughout. I wouldn’t recommend it to those who are sensitive to dark themes, but for myself it was a spectacular read.

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