"Late spring, 1943. The world is at war but the American mob is in its heyday. Former crime boss Joe Coughlin now works as a consigliere to the infamous Bartolo Crime Family, effortlessly handling its interests in Tampa, Boston, and Cuba. In the decade since he lost his wife in a cascade of bullets, Joe has made a home for himself and his son, and once again forged everything out of nothing: money, power, a relationship with a beautiful woman, and a privileged place in Tampa's shadowy underworld. But a rumor surfaces that someone wants Joe dead. And he has only days to figure out who, or he will die. And then there's the ghost -- a young boy who appears on the fringes of Joe's vision and seems to be trying to tell him something. Racing against time and fate, Joe hurtles through a violent yet intoxicating world on the brink of total collapse or epic triumph, a world on the cusp of reinvention and rebirth -- where the old codes, the old sins, and the old dreams may soon be swept away once and for all"--Back cover.
By: Dennis Lehane Pages. 320
Published By: William Morrow & Company
Copy Courtesy of TheReadingRoom Advanced Reading Copy
Reviewed By: tk
Joe Coughlin is by all rights a gangster. He is a leader of the organization in Florida to Cuba, and feared by many. Joe learns that there is a “contract” on his life. Now a widower, and sole parent to Tomas, Joe must find the person or persons that want Joe dead.
An incredible ride through the underworld. Where debts are paid not only with cash, but at times with your life. Dennis Lehane tells an tremendous story in amazing detail of the inner workings of organized crime. He also had a keen understanding of the life of family and friends within the organization, and the heartache surrounding the lose of life. A psychological thriller of superior quality.
I read this as a stand-alone novel. I will be reading the others in this series soon. Once I opened the book I just could not put it down. Dennis Lehane has become a favorite in just one reading. A much welcomed edition to any library. 5/5
There is something unsettled in South Florida and Joe can feel its effects. He begins to see a ghost, a young boy who shows up at odd moments, in crowds or alone in Joe's office. (In one of the most disturbing scenes of the book, Joe tells his doctor about the ghost. After Joe leaves the office, the doctor confronts his own demons and they are not pretty.) Dion Bartolo, may be losing his grip on the business - people are beginning to notice his vices. Rico DiGiacomo, Joe's long-time friend, may be keeping his own secrets. Even Joe's love life is unsettled, and the pressure is building. Joe wants to keep Tomas safe, but he's not willing to run and hide. He knows the game and he knows the players, but the rules are changing.
Joe Coughlin is a bad guy that you can't help rooting for. Whoever has put the hit out, you want Joe to figure it out. You want Tomas to be safe. You want Joe to be able to protect his friends and sniff out his enemies. You can't really say that Joe does the right thing, but there are flashes - like when he doesn't kill Loretta in Live By Night, even though it would be safer and easier - but you read the pages of World Gone By with a nagging feeling that Joe has missed something, that there is trouble headed his way and he may not be able to dodge the bullet this time.
This one was hard to put down. This is the final book in the Joe Coughlin trilogy and it is remarkably well done. There is no judgement here - yes, the characters are gangsters and killers, but that's not the point. They are also fathers and husbands, wives, brothers, and friends. The mob might be run by criminals, but it's a business; you take orders from the people in charge and someone is always watching the bottom line. The problem seemed to be that Joe wanted to live some semblance of a normal life as a retired consultant, raising his son, tending to his investments, maybe taking a new wife, but he wasn't in a normal situation. This wasn't the kind of story for that.
Dennis Lehane is an excellent writer and everything he produces is well worth our time. Very strong characters, great action, and fast paced story lines make his books so enjoyable and hard to put down.
Not too many current writers are able to keep their stories fresh and engaging while continuing to use the same primary lead characters. They are a rare breed and so often a step ahead and above their peers.
Joe, a Boston mob boss, more cerebral than most, is now retired and lives for his young son Tomas, a brainy, charming boy. All is not well with his sponsor and his compatriots, and a mob war is about to begin.
The best part of the book was the description of the killing of Gil Valentine, a mobster and promoter who, as Joe does, made money hand over fist for his associates. And yet, after years of a successful career and a happy family life, Valentine was kidnapped in LA. Six months later, his body parts were found by his son in canvas bags all over his Holmby Hills yard. No one - none of the bosses, the made men, no one in his illegitimate and legitimate empires - knew why Gil was dead.
"The message of Gil Valentine's death grew clearer as time passed, and it was a simple message: Anyone can be killed. At any time. For any reason."
Vintage Lehane, but the thrill is subdued. Neither the character of Joe nor the Florida locale had enough juice to make for three compelling books.
Joe is seeing glimpses of a strange, apparently imaginary child, which he decides is a ghost. He thinks often about the life he has lived, good and evil, and death. He is drawn inexorably into conflicts within the crime family whose senior members are his close friends. Lehane spares us no details of the violent and sordid life that Joe has chosen and from which he cannot escape. I'm not sure what the point of all this violence is, other than to say that the world can be an awful place and that people have almost unlimited capacity for treating one another horribly.
"...No.' Something ticked at the base of Joe's throat. Felt like a beetle. 'You just strafe the boat until whoever killed us is dead too. There's a can of gas back there with the gun. You light that fucking thing up and watch till it sinks.' He looked over at him 'You do that for us, Al?'
'He's to and army on there.'
Rico leaned across the seat. 'And you'll have a Thompson. If we die, you respond. Clear?'
Al eventually nodded, his lips moving, his eyes too big.
'What?' Joe said. 'Just say it.'
'You can't kill the devil.'
'He's not the devil,' Joe said. 'The devil's charming..."
It's been over ten years since Joe Coughlin's enemies ambushed him and destroyed the empire he built in Southern Florida. Ten years since he cradled the bullet ridden body of wife in his arms. Prohibition is gone and the former crime lord now acts as Consigliore to his the Bartolo crime family. His son, Tomas is growing up, the last tie his has to the wife he loved. Joe is still a powerful man and his guidance is often sought after. So he is surprised when he receives a message to meet with a hired killer in prison. A meeting where he is asked a favor in exchange for the name of the victim of a contract. The victim's name is Joe Coughlin.
Now Joe must unravel the mystery behind the contract and the reason why. Joe, who has been out of the game for so many years, why is he being singled out. Who benefits from his death and can he stop it in time.
Dennis Lehane is one of the best crime novelists around today. Not only for the characters and circumstances he creates, but for the way he weaves the setting so deftly into the storyline. Politicians and gangsters and the brutality and corruption. It is almost tangible, as thick as the Florida humidity. The emergence of the black gangster and the power wielded by the Italian Mob. The reality that the most powerful of them all was not an Italian but a small Jewish man known as Meyer Lansky.
But as he has done so well with his other novels, Mystic River being my all time favorite, its the humanity Lehane infuses his novels with. It is the life's blood that pulses in all these pages. Not the violence. Not the suspense. Not the mysteries. Its the characters. They are as real as they can be.
World Gone By is another of these great small novels that just doesn't get enough play in the current market place. This is a master crime novelist at work. A true heir to the Dashell Hammetts and Mickey Spillane genre of crime novels.
Don't miss it!
I think I liked the first book the best. Mostly because it was set in an interesting time period, just after the end of WW1.
It's almost ten years since Joe's wife was killed in a bloody gangland battle. Now Joe is a devoted, single father to Tomas and a respected leader in the underworld of Tampa, Florida. Joe is a businessman, although the legalities of all his businesses may be in question, his control and influence never has been in doubt, until now. An imprisoned young woman manages to get in contact with Joe to warn him that someone has a contract out on him and his life is in danger. While this is perplexing to Joe, he starts to ask questions and speculations and rumors begin to unfold.
This is a complex novel with numerous different storylines going on at the same time so it is a novel that you have to pay attention to the characters and the relationships while reading. It is also a gangster novel, so the characters are not engaged in virtuous action, although there is some sort of honor among thieves, there is also a moral ambiguity concerning their actions. While Joe has a code of ethic, it is based on the whole gangster culture that he is an integral part of, even though he's not in the trenches as much as he used to be.
Lehane is always an excellent writer so this is not only a well written technically, there is also a complexity to the plot and character development that set his book above many others. Additionally, he includes many historical facts and characters. World Gone By is a historical gangster novel, but it is not only about betrayal and bloody gang wars, it is also about fathers and sons, family ties, and fate.
While I have the previous two novels on my shelf, I haven't read then yet. That did not prevent me from enjoying this complex historical crime novel.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.
Virtually all the characters are heartless killers and, while Lehane shows us the warped moral codes of these gangsters, it is hard to feel any tension in the setpiece showdowns and gunfights if you don't care about any of the characters.
The writing is tight in this novel, and the characterization stands out. What makes the characters so strong and Joe in particular is that they did not see themselves as the bad guys. They created their own rules and followed them. They did not see themselves as monsters even though they were gangsters and criminals. As a result, I didn’t see them as monsters either. There are some real memorable characters up and down this novel, starting with Joe but extending to many of the secondary characters. The author successfully breathed life into them and made them real and relatable. The other thing that was exceptionally strong was the plot. There were many twists and turns that happened that I did not see coming and nor did Joe Coughlin. On the downside, I didn’t like the aspect of the book with the ghosts. The ending also fell short of the mark. Otherwise, this was a top notch gangster novel.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street
WORLD GONE BY
William Morrow, 2016
I am reading this series, the Coughlin Series, so out of order. I started with LIVE BY NIGHT (Book 2) because I wanted to read it before seeing the movie (starring Ben Affleck, which, by the way, I enjoyed both). And rather than go back and read Book 1, THE GIVEN DAY, I decided I'd read Book 3, WORLD GONE BY. My reason being, THE GIVEN DAY deals with Joe Coughlin's father, and Books 2 and 3 deal with Joe. Anywho . . .
WORLD GONE BY takes place roughly ten years after LIVE BY NIGHT (Click HERE to see my review of LIVE BY NIGHT). Joe Coughlin has his hands full. He is still down south, in Tampa, doing his best to run an honest business, but out there is a bullet with his name on it, there is a rat in the organization, and Joe--he's seeing ghosts!
In WORLD GONE BY it all comes down to someone owing you a favor. Joe never goes soft. He has just never been about the killing. He never considered himself a gangster, just an outlaw. But along the way, did all of that change?
Not nearly as complex as LIVE BY NIGHT, but still an amazing crime novel, WORLD GONE BY seems like the perfect end to an amazing trilogy.
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and The Vaccination Trilogy
Lehane writes a good gangster. But a flawed one--his downfall is his principles (with some stupidity and trust, thrown in). He calls them his ethics, not morals: do not kill your enemies kids, keep your agreements, etc.
Lehane gives us a range of cold-bloodedness, ambition, and laid-back gangsterism to see the spectrum of ethical action and its opposite.
But the important thing--Lehane writes!: the characters (you care about these guys, well some of them), the location (a FLA you will avoid), the plot (real and twisting back often), and the words (He writes!).
This book probably won't be called literature, but it will satisfy, make you think (a little), and probably make Lehane a million bucks when they do the movie.
Like I said--a great weekend read.