Sacred, the third book in Dennis Lehane’s superb mystery series, picks up 6 months after Darkness, Take My Hand. Shell shocked Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are trying to rebuild their lives after the devastating events of their previous case and have stopped taking new work. However, billionaire Trevor Stone needs their help so badly that he kidnaps the detectives to persuade them to locate his missing daughter, Desiree. Despite Trevor’s unorthodox methods Angie and Patrick are intrigued by the case – and the $50,000 retainer doesn’t hurt, either. As they dig deeper in to Desiree’s disappearance they uncover a shady grief counseling company, connections to a heroin smuggler, and and a never ending stream of lies.
After the brutal Darkness, Take my Hand; this novel is almost whimsical in comparison. There is still dark aspects and plenty of violence but there is a lot more humor and the stakes are not quite as high. Even facing death Patrick and Angie are more wisecracking and cavalier, as if the previous case has broken them of any optimism for the future they once had. We learn more about how Patrick became a detective and Angie continues to deal with her grief over the loss of a loved one at the hands of a serial killer. Ultimately, the case they are working on is thematically the B plot. Even the title has nothing to do with the case, and is only referred to and spelled out in the final pages. The horrifying events in Darkness, Take My Hand has forced the detectives to rely on each other completely and this makes them a formidable opponent for anything that is thrown at them.
Lehane finds the balance between the suspense and the humor in Sacred, making for a very fast paced and enjoyable story. The book starts off fast and never lets up until the wicked conclusion. Along the way the bullets are flying, the bodies are piling up, and Angie and Patrick are back to doing what they do best: staying a half step ahead of their adversaries and not stopping until the case is closed.
Sacred is not nearly as thematically weighty as its predecessors but it is a lot more fun and bridges the gap between the two heavy entries in the series of Darkness, Take my Hand and Gone Baby Gone.