Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #19: Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
As promised in my recent CBR4 review of Dennis Lehane’s first novel, I have just finished reading Darkness Take My Hand, the second book in the Kenzie/Gennaro private eye series, and find myself blown away, as much by Lehane’s compelling noir tale as by his brilliant depiction of unutterable human corruption.
The duo get hired to find out who is threatening a lady psychiatrist and her son, and their early investigation takes them into the heart of Boston’s Irish Mafia which Kenzie and Gennaro know intimately. Here, they cross paths with a cluster of murderous sociopaths, who nonetheless pale in comparison to the pair of demented serial killers who spring from Kenzie’s past, take over the novel about half-way through, and ratchet up the terror considerably. Any more details would truly be spoilers, so that’s all you’ll get on the main plot. But there’s so much more.
The Boston in which Kenzie and Gennaro operate is a black hole which admits no light, an urban underbelly saturated with psychosis, fear, and blood. Lots of it! But where Lehane’s genius lies is in bringing his characters—and Boston is definitely one of them!—into bold relief, so that we cannot dismiss them as figments of the author’s imagination, but instead we are forced to acknowledge that they are terrifying inhabitants of our own world.
True to form, Lehane’s novel is a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a romance all rolled into one. But more than that, Lehane gives us highly complex parallel plots which repeatedly intersect until they merge. He also plays with the time line of his story, so that we are tossed back and forth in time to fill out the details and explain the references to this incident or that person from Kenzie and Gennaro’s past. So while walking in the footsteps of his two heroes, we also experience their histories, their loves—and their demons. Villains and heroes from the previous novel change places, and the moral line between what is right and what is necessary becomes increasingly and deliberately blurred, bringing the story to an incredibly explosive conclusion but also leaving this reader, at least, in a slight state of shock and in desperate need of some sunlight and a big hug!