World Gone By

by Dennis Lehane

Hardcover, 2015

Call number




William Morrow (2015), Edition: 1St Edition, 320 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML: A psychologically, morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II, in which Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past and present. Ten years have passed since Joe Coughlin's enemies killed his wife and destroyed his empire, and much has changed. Prohibition is dead, the world is at war again, and Joe's son, Tomás, is growing up. Now, the former crime kingpin works as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife's homeland. A master who moves in and out of the black, white, and Cuban underworlds, Joe effortlessly mixes with Tampa's social elite, U.S. Naval intelligence, the Lansky-Luciano mob, and the mob-financed government of Fulgencio Batista. He has everything�??money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity. But success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past�??and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full. Dennis Lehane vividly recreates the rise of the mob during a world at war, from a masterfully choreographed Ash Wednesday gun battle in the streets of Ybor City to a chilling, heartbreaking climax in a Cuban sugar cane field. Told with verve and skill, World Gone By is a superb work of historical fiction from one of "the most interesting and accomplished American novelists" (Washington Post) writing tod… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jim53
In this third volume of Dennis Lehane's series featuring the Coughlin family, Joe Coughlin is several years "retired" from his active role in organized crime in Tampa, Florida. His involvement cost him several friends and his wife. Now Joe is focused on raising his nine-year-old son, carrying on an
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affair, and helping all his friends make obscene amounts of money through his legitimate businesses. When he receives a message that a contract has been taken out on his life, he must decide how to proceed.

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.
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LibraryThing member VashonJim
Joe Coughlin's life amongst the gangsters of South Florida makes for an arresting read. Leanne surely has a magic touch.
LibraryThing member Doondeck
Story moves along quickly and violently.
LibraryThing member trishbrowning
Dennis Lehane wraps up an interesting series with World Gone By. The characters are well developed, the story moves along at a good clip, the dialogue is witty and interesting, and the setting transports me back in time and makes me feel like I've got pin curls in my hair, sling back heels on my
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feet, and a dress that hugs my curves. Lehane is one of my favorite authors, and he kept the standards high in this latest novel.
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LibraryThing member LisaLynne
At the start of World Gone By, Joe Coughlin is a single father, a widower after the death of his beloved wife, Graciela, raising his 10 year old son, Tomas, on his own. His career has taken a surprisingly traditional turn- he has retired and become a consultant, a consigliere to the crime families
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that dominate South Florida. With his help and advice, the families are making money. Their businesses are thriving. Joe has no enemies. So why has someone put out a contract on him?

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.
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LibraryThing member labdaddy4
Lehane has restored my faith in what an excellent writer can do. Fat too often an author has a very good novel then ruins it by stretching and diluting it while turning it into a trilogy. I can only assume this is all bout the MONEY - get them hooked with a pretty good book and then make even more
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money by writing two more with the same characters, plot line, etc.

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.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
The third is this series is the weakest, and I wish Dennis Lehane would come home, back to Boston! The first two books, in Ybor City, Florida, in Cuba, and in Tampa, showed much of how crime families develop and hold their wealth.

Joe, a Boston mob boss, more cerebral than most, is now retired and
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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.
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LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
Dennis Lehane just writes good entertaining books. This is the final of a trilogy about a gangster(Joe Coughlin). It helps to have read the first 2 books but this one can stand on its own. It has Lehane's great talent for dialogue and deals so well with the crime subculture and the historical times
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that the novel is set in. It is interesting to see how the characters try to treat family as something special and keep them away from "their business" but cannot see how that can never happen. I enjoy this genre in the written form where the graphic violence is not so impacting as it is on the screen. It gives you a view into a world which unfortunately exists and make you grateful for you own existence.
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LibraryThing member agarcia85257
World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane, is an old time gangster story much like the tales that gave birth to the Godfather. It is Havana and Florida and the early 1940s with the war still raging across the globe. A novel of betrayal and passion and the loss of innocence that only Lehane, author of Shutter
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Island and Mystic River, can tell with such effortless flair.

"...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!
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LibraryThing member BillPilgrim
Third book following the Coughlin family, after The Given Day and Live By Night. Typically interesting story from Lehane. It is 1942. Joe Coughlin has moved from head boss in the Tampa area to an advisor. He hears that someone has put out a contract on his life, and that the hit is scheduled for
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Ash Wednesday, just a few days away. It doesn't make sense, no one should want Joe dead. But, he is rattled and needs to figure out who is behind 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.
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LibraryThing member waldhaus1
Gangster story rich with historical references in the Tampa bay area, Florida, and Cuba. Apparently the last in a trilogy. It does fine on its own, but leaves me tempted to read the lead ins.
LibraryThing member doseofbella
World Gone By (Coughlin #3)
By: Dennis Lehane Pages. 320
Published By: William Morrow & Company
March 2015
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
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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
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LibraryThing member Linda.Bass
I won this but and agreed to give it an honest review, although this is my first time reading this author it will not be my last! Ten years have passed since Joe's enemies killed his wife leaving him with a baby boy and destroyed his empire. Prohibition is dead and America is in a war again. His
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young son is growing up and Joe decides to wash his hands from the blood of killing and he works as a consigliore giving up his kingpin position for the Bartolo crime family. As things heat up, newer men in the family are greedy for more power and sets his world in a spin. Joe Coughlin is a master who moves through the black white and Cuban underworld with ease, but his past sins are catching up with him and his debt must be paid!
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
I really struggled to get through this one - zoned out on it several times and got a number of the mobsters mixed up. All I can say is that it wasn't too bad and it certainly took a different take on this time period - most of the books set in the 1940s have WWII as a focus, not a bunch of mobsters
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running around Florida. A very vibrant and diverse cast of characters as well, but not distinctive enough to make me love this book.
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LibraryThing member SheTreadsSoftly
World Gone By by Dennis Lehane is a highly recommended second novel in the gangster series featuring Joe Coughlin. World Gone By is a sequel to Live By Night (2012) in Lehane's series of historical novels that began with The Given Day (2008).

It's almost ten years since Joe's wife was killed in a
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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.
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LibraryThing member kerns222
A great weekend read.
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,
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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.
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LibraryThing member lewilliams
I couldn't get into the plot or care about the characters. Just seemed to drag on and on.
LibraryThing member stephengoldenberg
As a big Dennis Lehane fan, this novel was a disappointment. He is one of the very best modern crime writers and novels like Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone are outstanding examples of the genre. However, World Gone By represents another strand in his writing - namely, historical
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gangster fiction - and, although written with his usual command of hard-boiled dialogue and colourful characters, I just can't see the point of them. The main character here, Joe Coughlin, is a ruthless criminal killer. The fact that the wife he was passionately in love with died young and he is trying to be a model single parent to his young son hardly redeems him especially when he puts the boy in danger.
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.
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LibraryThing member ptom3
Dennis Lehane
William Morrow, 2016
320 pages

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
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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.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and The Vaccination Trilogy
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LibraryThing member adrianburke
I picked this up on a whim in the new books section in the library. I read the book very quickly and it runs like a film. This writer picks his way through the cliches of crime/thriller genres, using what he wants and never ever teetering into the cliche at all. This sort of novel will probably
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outlive many more 'serious' books - I hope so, anyway.
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LibraryThing member asxz
A bit simpler and smaller than the first two Coughlin stories but Lehane's writing is always pleasurable. I didn't always buy in to the outlaw life that he proposes here. It comes at too high a cost for all involved. I've avoided Lehane's standalone books until now so I don't know when I'll get to
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read him again.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
As a fan of crime fiction and Mafia fiction, this novel really stands out among mobster books I’ve read. I especially enjoy when real life characters are used, and this one was chocked full of them including Myer Lansky and Lucky Luciano among others. The main character in this story is Joe
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Coughlin. Set during World War 2, Coughlin is no longer the crime boss in Central Florida, although he is acting as the consigliere to the boss while expanding into legitimate business enterprises. Conspiracy is afoot when he hears of a plot to assassinate him, something he is desperately trying to avoid.

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
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LibraryThing member TobinElliott
Dennis Lehane is just one of those writers incapable of writing a bad book. This one is no exception.

The third Coughlin book (after The Given Day and Live By Night) and the second Joe Coughlin book (the first is LBN), this one is darker and bleaker, finding Joe a few years after the events of Live
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By Night.

I can't praise Lehane enough. His pacing, his dialogue, his characters, his plots, his narrative. His books don't just offer up a story, they sing.

He's just that good.
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LibraryThing member tsmom1219
Dennis Lehane is an amazing writer. This is noir at its finest.





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