The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 2, 2011

Phyllis Sessengood: Detectives search for same girl in newest Lehane book

By Phyllis Sessengood
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — “Moonlight Mile is the sequel to the intense, psychological thriller “Gone, Baby, Gone.” In that book, 4-year-old Amanda McCready had been kidnapped from a Boston apartment while her drug- and alcohol-addicted mother, Helene, left her daughter by herself.

Amanda’s aunt and uncle persuaded private investigators Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie to search for their little niece. Regardless of several harrowing adventures and attempts on their lives, Patrick and his lover and partner, Angie, locate Amanda.

Patrick returned the little girl to her neglectful mother over Angie’s objections. His agonizing decision caused Angie’s and Patrick’s relationship to deteriorate. He has second-guessed that decision ever since.

As “Moonlight Mile” begins, we find the detectives married with a four-year-old daughter of their own, Gabrielle. During these tough economic times, life hasn’t been easy for the couple.

Angie has returned to school. Their P.I. business is dying -- a victim of the rough economic times. Patrick has been working for a large investigations firm and is hoping to get a job (with benefits) in the company.

Patrick arrives home one evening to find a woman with a vaguely familiar face waiting for him --ÊBeatrice McCready, the aunt who hired Kenzie to find Amanda 12 years ago.  

Beatrice tells Patrick that the now sixteen-year-old Amanda is missing again. She begs Patrick and Angie for help in locating her niece, who has been gone for two weeks.

The husband and wife team have very conflicted emotions about taking on this case. However, this may be Patrick’s chance to rectify his decision to return Amanda to her unfit mother twelve years earlier.

Is Amanda a runaway or has she again been kidnapped? No one is sure, but who could blame Amanda for wanting to abandon her mother’s miserable lifestyle.  

Helene is still the same drug addicted alcoholic and is into identity theft now.  Amanda’s stepfather is dealing drugs, and her best friend is involved in something dark and sinister.

Patrick quickly learns from talking to Amanda’s teachers that Amanda has grown up to be an independent, tough and smart young woman. She was admitted to an elite girls school on a full scholarship. A bright future awaited her; her sights were set on an ivy-league college. Why would she give it all up?  

Beatrice learns that Amanda may be trying to assume a false identity and informs Patrick of her theory. Patrick races to get to Amanda first when Russian gangsters, baby trafficking, and a legendary Russian cross complicate the situation. The reader is immediately hooked by the white-knuckle thrill ride that follows.

Lehane’s brilliant storytelling keeps the suspense high and the pulse pounding in this dark and serious story with its unpredictable plot. His characters are vividly described -- the villains, dark and twisted, some surprisingly amusing. The dialogue is quick, witty and clever.

 “Gone, Baby, Gone is the fourth book and “Moonlight Mile” the sixth in the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series. The first-rate thriller “Gone, Baby, Gone” was also made into a movie starring Ben Affleck.

I would urge anyone who intends to read “Moonlight Mile” to read the novel or see the film version of “Gone, Baby, Gone” first.