"Since We Fell" (Ecco), by Dennis Lehane
Dennis Lehane's crime fiction has highlighted some of the most insightful looks at parenting ("Gone Baby Gone"), mental health ("Shutter Island"), loss of innocence ("Mystic River") and the life of mobsters ("Live By Night").
In his latest novel, Lehane delivers a poignant story about a woman's search for her identity, wrapped in a love story. Make no mistake, "Since We Fell" is crime fiction, filled with con men, murder, greed and revenge. But the love story gives this novel its heart. And, as one would expect from Lehane, this is no normal love story. After all, the first sentence of the novel shows the lead character shooting her husband, whom she loves.
"Since We Fell" also marks the first time that Lehane has devoted a novel to a female protagonist. Certainly, Lehane expertly has written strong women characters throughout his career; Angie Gennaro was an equal to Patrick Kenzie in his series about those two Boston private detectives.
But Rachel Childs isn't a detective — she's not even a journalist anymore having had a massive on-camera breakdown while covering the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Now she barely leaves the house. Rachel's retreat from the world derives from her childhood and her selfish mother's refusal to tell her the name of her father. During her own hunt for her father, Rachel hired private investigator Brian Delacroix, who told her not to continue her search. Years later, Rachel and Brian met again, and eventually married. Brian is a very loving husband who understands why she stays at home. The plot turns when Rachel becomes involved in a conspiracy that forces her to re-examine her choices.
Lehane imbues "Since We Fell" with an intense character study, showing why Rachel became so troubled and how she will delve into the strength she didn't know she had. When violence enters Rachel's life, it's as shocking as any of the action in Lehane's hard-boiled novels.
In each novel, Lehane has stretched himself and taken chances with his stories. "Since We Fell" meets his high standards, showing the power of introspection and love — and, yes, it is a crime story.