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Boozy Birth Of The American Mafia In Lehane’s Latest

By NPR staff

Here’s how the new novel from crime writer Dennis Lehane begins: “Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin’s feet were placed in a tub of cement.”

Pretty hard to stop reading after an opening line like that — at least you’d think. “It was funny, a guy came up to me the other night, and he said, ‘I really loved this book once it got going,’ ” Lehane tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep. “I thought, ‘Jesus Christ, read the first sentence! How much more “getting going” is it going to get?’ ”

Lehane is known for his gritty, Boston-based crime novels, like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. His new book, Live By Night, is set in an earlier era, during Prohibition. “I’ve always absolutely loved the time period,” he says. “The clothes, and the cars, and Tommy guns, and maybe too much exposure to 1920s and 1930s gangster movies when I was a kid.”

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