Well, I am starting out another year of books with a welcome bang, reading a book that one of my favorite authors, Dennis Lehane, is famous for, Gone Baby Gone. Before he turned to writing books like Mystic river and The Given Day, Lehane wrote four novels centered on private detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro in the Boston. I was very excited to read this book, thinking it would be a lot of the elements I liked in his other novels heightened and made the focus of the story, and I am glad to say that it did just that, and like the other books of Lehane, I loved it dearly. Whether it is his knack for writing speech that leaves you in stitches but also cuts deep to harsh truths about the modern world, or his unpretentious ways of handling story and character, he really is one of the best writers alive today, not just of crime novels, but of novels that dissect and examine the darkest parts of our hearts, hoping and praying to come upon any kind of light. And he performs his humanistic duty without sacrificing the pulse of the narrative. Rarely is their a boring moment in any of his stories, and even in the slow moments, when the guns have stopped firing and the screaming has stopped, he still has the reader’s full attention, waiting for some truth or unspoken feeling to come from from a character on the edge of life itself. The story begins with the disappearance of four-year-old Amanda Mcready from the home of her disgustingly neglectful mother, Helene. Pressured into a job they do not want to take, on account of the possibility of a horrific outcome for Amanda, Kenzie and Gennaro approach the crime with trepidation and maybe perhaps a little too much vigor and aggression toward possible suspects. We go with them on their journey through the dark underbelly of Boston, past the robbers, killers and even the rapists, to the truly evil people that call this world home, leading to a shocking conclusion that brings into question whether the right thing is always the right thing for everyone. This is probably the darkest Lehane has ever gotten in terms of story and definitely in terms of subject matter, even more so than he did with Mystic River and Shutter Island. A scene towards the end where which eventually drives all involved in the case of Amanda to the breaking point of rage and misanthropy is easily the most disturbing thing Lehane has written and is sometimes hard to fathom, but never do we get a sense that it always has to be this way. These terrible things happen out of human weakness, but those same weaknesses play to our strengths, and can lead the lonely and the damned in life on the road to becoming better people. It really is an awesome experience to read a novel by Dennis Lehane, and this is a really good place to start.