Here is a masterful piece of historical fiction from a veteran novelist with extraordinary talent. World Gone By, written by Dennis Lehane, follows the interior struggle of a man with a tragic past he cannot escape and an uncertain future. In her review of the book in The New York Times, Marilyn Stasio refers to that struggle as “the existential agonies of a moral man working at an immoral profession in a corrupt world.”
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
World Gone By is the third in a trio of interlinked novels that span the years from 1918 to 1943. The Given Day launched the series with a powerful tale of a troubled family in Boston during its most momentous period in the wake of World War I, focusing on the Boston police strike of 1919. Live By Night took up the story of young Joe Coughlin, the black sheep of that family in his early years as a hoodlum and his emergence as a powerful figure in the Florida mob.
In World Gone By, Coughlin has retired as the head of the mob, remaining as consigliere to his childhood friend who succeeded him as capo. Coughlin remains a member of the Commission that monitors the activities of its branches in cities throughout the country, thus dealing face-to-face with familiar figures such as Meyer Lansky (his partner in Cuba) and Lucky Luciano.
World Gone By (Coughlin #3) by Dennis Lehane ★★★★★
In action shifting from Ybor City, Florida, to Cuba, the tension builds relentlessly to a shattering conclusion. It’s very difficult to put the book down during its final chapters. World Gone By is a masterpiece of plotting.
If you’re attuned to popular culture, you’ve probably been exposed to the work of Dennis Lehane. He has written twelve novels, including his magnum opus, A Given Day, plus three others which have (already) been adapted into popular, attention-getting films: Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; and Shutter Island. Lehane has also written extensively for television, including such notable series as The Wire and Boardwalk Empire.
For related reading
I’ve also reviewed three other novels by Dennis Lehane:
- The Drop (A short crime novel about Boston’s lowlife by a master of the genre)
- Live by Night – Coughlin #2 (A thoughtful, action-packed crime story)
- Small Mercies (When the cracks opened wide in Boston society)
If you enjoy reading history in fictional form, check out 20 most enlightening historical novels. And if you’re looking for suspenseful historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers.
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