This review was originally posted on amazon on May 30, 2012:
This book was chosen as a group read by a goodreads group. It is unlikely that I would've found, much less read, this book, otherwise. Having said that, I found it to be a well-written, albeit somewhat forgettable, crime drama about an anti-hero.
The book opens with a simple burglary break-in that goes very, very bad. Danny - our anti-hero - and Evan - our antagonist - are partners from the old neighborhood who are engaged in petty thievery. Things get ugly when Evan shoots and badly injures the business owner, and Danny takes off. Evan goes off to prison, and Danny starts to rebuild his life. Seven years later is really when the book begins, with Evan's release from prison, and recontacting of Danny with a plan for Danny to right the wrongs that Evan perceives have been done him by putting together one big score.
Things rapidly go from bad, to badder, to positively awful, for Danny. Evan has not been rehabilitated by his stint in custody. It becomes clearly early on in the book that things are going to spiral out of control, and that there is the potential for Danny to lose everything that he has built over the preceding seven years.
The positives about this book: it is well-written and held my attention. I haven't read a lot of Dennis Lehane, but this book did remind me of what I have read of his work. A glimpse into the life of the street thug was interesting. The dialogue was convincing, and the plotting was workmanlike. The supporting characters were well drawn and engaging - Karen, Danny's unlikely girlfriend, the happy-go-lucky but doomed Patrick, Danny's friend from the neighborhood, Debbie, the rough around the edges consort of Evan who named herself after Debbie Harry, the lead singer for Blondie.
The negatives about this book: in spite of the fact that I enjoyed the book, this will probably be a longer list. I never really connected with Danny. He is an anti-hero, to be sure, and I have a difficult time rooting for the anti-hero. I think that the author attempted to set up a convincing moral choice for Danny, but I don't think he really succeeded in this endeavor. I didn't like the ending at all. It felt, again, like Danny simply escaped responsibility for his own poor choices. I wasn't at all convinced.
Overall, I enjoyed the book enough that I will seek out other books by the author. As a debut it was a good, but not great, effort.