Monday, November 5, 2007

Evil on the loose in Boston, Southie, Dorchester, Charlestown

Well, I just finished my first book in a while and it isn't one of those I said I was reading. I was reading them, and still am. I've mainly been writing and reading for my environmental blog. I just took a detour into crime fiction as a breather. Boy, was that relaxing.

So, I read Gone Baby Gone (GBG) by Dennis Lehane. Why I spelled Mr. Lehane's name wrong at first, I have no idea, but my apologies for the extra "n". I guess this is one of the dangers of blogging/proofreading late at night. On the other hand, I know I have corrected the spelling of "the" (from "teh") at least four times in the same spot on this page, and the typo keeps coming back! I probably need to collaborate with a professional. See Peter and Frances for examples of how a blog should be written.

Back to the book, Gone, Baby, Gone (Harper Fiction): yes, I'm the guy who typically can't handle books about kids as victims. So, maybe this wasn't a great choice. It starts with the disappearance of a child, and several more children disappear in the course of the story.

I had already read Mystic River, which I thought was excellent, though emotionally draining to the point where I had no desire to see the movie and go through it all over again. I was impressed with the writing then and still was with GBG.

Still, I can't say that GBG really worked for me as a complete book. It was like a rock song or classical music piece with many false endings that picked up again with a new theme just when I thought it was time for intermission (cheese cake and coffee in St. Louis at the symphony, beer at the rock concerts). I can be completely engrossed by conspiracies (take my loyalty and fascination with the TV show Damages, or the million or so espionage books I've read), but here, in GBG, the confluence of events and a profusion of parallel but largely unrelated plots, ones that linked up only from time to time, required too much of a stretch for me to be comfortable. I enjoyed the characters and the language very much, though I didn't find the ending "in character", the ending where Patrick, who has allowed himself to be judge and executioner in the past, suddenly has to follow "the book" and the law because he can't judge.

One odd coincidence (of the type I wasn't buying in the book) is that I was going through my digital photos of family trips and I had a bunch of photos of the exact area where much of the story took place (though from a distance). So I've added some of those here- Charlestown naval yard, Bunker Hill monument, and what used to be a legitimate part of Southie (I think), before warehouses were razed and the new convention center was built. It all looks so harmless it the mid-day, summer sunlight. Who'd have thought ...

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

Pictures by James K. Bashkin, some rights reserved, used by the photographer:


P6210558 USS Constitution and Bunker Hill monument

P6210554 USS Constitution in Boston Harbor

P6210553 WWII ship in Naval Yard at Charlestown in Boston Harbor

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  1. Interesting take on the book. I haven't read it yet, but Mystic River is waiting for me to get around to it. You've certainly piqued my interest in it!

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I just finished "A Drink Before the War", an earlier book in the series that contains "GBG". I'll write it up shortly. Best wishes, Jim

  3. Hi Jim, thanks for signing my guestbook! Regarding your comment, I never write about my friends for that reason!

    I agree with you on GBG being disappointing in more than a few ways, including the ending. The premise was believable, but it was taken to extremes. For example, police officers would not allow civilians to take over their investigations and broker deals with suspects on law enforcement's behalf. That's just dumb.

  4. Vivienne, Hi! Thanks for the feedback on my review. I look forward to following your writing. Best wishes, Jim