Dennis Lehane wrote five novels about gumshoes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro in the ’90s, before he became the go-to source for big-screen Beantown noir (see: Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) and swore that he was done with mysteries. But after a disappointing stab at historical fiction with 2008’s The Given Day, Lehane has returned to mysteries and modern times, perfectly capturing gloomy post–financial meltdown Boston. Fortunately, he brought Patrick and Angie along to offset the murk; their chemistry has only gotten fizzier, with a realistic dash of old-married-couple resolve.
If only they had a more interesting mystery to solve! Moonlight Mile is a sequel to Gone, in which the pair tracked down a kidnapped girl named Amanda McCready. At the end of that book, Patrick made a terrible decision that changed Amanda’s life forever. Now, 12 years later, Amanda has gone missing again. The search takes us on a tour of local grotesqueries (identity thieves who live in gated communities, Blu-ray-obsessed Russian mobsters), but Lehane’s plotting starts to wander midway. Gone ended on a note of frustrating but satisfying ambiguity; Mile just grows more frustrating by the page. (It doesn’t help that Lehane’s keen ear for dialogue falls flat when-ever a teenager walks into the room: ''That chick was wannabe-dot-com.'' ''Dot-org.'')
There is a lot to like about Moonlight Mile: the panoramic vision of societal decline, Patrick and Angie’s never-ending verbal one-upmanship. But you’ll finish it hoping that Lehane has another, better book on his mind. Doesn’t a Great Recession deserve great Recession Noir? B