There's no doubt about it:?Dennis Lehane, an Irish working-class guy from Boston, can write gripping and deliriously convoluted tales of desperation, violence, and moral ambiguity.? One of the most successful novelists currently at work, Lehane has already seen two of his books turned into splendid films: Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River. Presently Martin Sorcese is rendering another Lehane creation into cinema: Shutter Island.? From the New York Times to the Seattle Times, the 42-year-old's hard-hitting fiction garners consistently laudable reviews. Lehane maintains his stride with his latest offering, The Given Day, a superb tale set mostly in his well-worn beat of multi-ethnic Boston.?
It's 1918 and the average cop earns a paltry wage that is ever more depreciated as the post-war cost of living escalates.? Most cops are family men and frustrated by their inability to care properly for their wives and children: "Twenty-nine cents an hour for a seventy-three hour week.? No overtime...The poor night guys were paid a flat two bits an hour and worked eighty-three hours a week."? Humiliation is compounded by rundown, disease-infested precinct buildings.? Labor unrest in numerous trades and industries is pervasive.? It's a time of radical politics, of the horrific flu epidemic, and of simmering racial and ethnic tensions.? It's also the time of Babe Ruth, still with the Boston Red Sox and beginning to demonstrate his legendary power at the plate.?
Danny Coughlin is a tough young Boston cop and son of respected Police Captain Thomas Coughlin.? Danny is one of three sons born to Thomas and his wife.? The family is Irish Catholic to the bone. ?A stowaway on a ship that sailed from Ireland, Thomas came to Boston with nothing.? On that journey Thomas met another impoverished young Celt, Eddie McKenna, also looking to make his way in the New World.? When caught aboard, they're enslaved and set to work in the ship's miserable galley.? On arrival in Boston they outwit their captors and escape into the throngs of the streets.?
Both become seasoned cops and adapt to the lucrative mores of municipal graft. ?Thomas proves the more adept at Boston's intricate system of Ward politics, coming a long way from Ireland's destitution. He harbors high hopes for his sons.? Danny could make it up the ranks of the force but he shares the anger and resentment of his fellow cops.? He holds to a truth "he'd accepted since he could first walk: the system fucked the working man."? Thus Danny eschews a safe career path for the risky and controversial fight for a Police Union.
Another member of the Coughlin m