Given Day

Dear J-

As a follow-up, I finally finished Lehane’s The Given Day late last night and having had some time to let it filter through my unconscious mind, I’m standing by my assertion that most of the heroes stuck out like a sore thumb, being unusually progressive and modern-minded. The strange feeling never really went away; even as the story moved along to its gripping conclusion (Lehane does know how to tell a tale) those characters stood in stark relief to the villains, who were painted with flat, broad strokes.

It was worth reading, but unlike the Kenzie-Gennaro series, I’m not sure I’d re-read it in five years when all the details have leaked out or my head. The characters are quite likable, but they wouldn’t be out of place in a modern setting. There’s a note of false drama with the byplays between Danny and Nora, Luther and Lila; Lehane grants us our wishes for a happy ending.

The work of a critic, especially an amateur one, is shockingly easy (just look at any typical Amazon product review). The act of creation, the labor, is apparent in the novel’s craft: compulsively readable and fleshed-out; as with other Lehane novels, I’m transported back to Boston. I just wish the characters were a bit more complex, as most of his earlier ones have been; you could make an argument for Danny as Mary Sue wish-fulfillment. All this is telling me that I need to watch The Wire, his contemporaneous writing project.

Mike

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