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All of Dennis Lehanne’s Books in Order!
Who is Dennis Lehane?
Dennis Lehane is an American Novelist and screenwriter. Born in 1965 in Boston, Massachusetts, I lived in the area of Boston most of his life, where he sets the action of most of his books.
He published his first book in 1995, A Drink Before the War, the first in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. Since he became a famous writer, Lehane has taught fiction writing at several colleges.
Several of his novels have been adapted into movies: Mystic River (2003), Gone Baby Gone (2007), Shutter Island (2010), and Live by Night (2016). Lehane himself has also a film and TV career, as part of the writing staff on The Wire (like George Pelecanos).
He has also been a writer and creative consultant on Boardwalk Empire, and a writer and consulting producer on Mr. Mercedes (based on Stephen King’s book). Lehane also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Drop, based on his own short story “Animal Rescue“.
How to read Dennis Lehane’s Books in Order?
The Kenzie and Gennaro Series
Childhood friends, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro have become private detectives in Boston. In the firs book of the series, they are hired by politician Mulkern to find Jenna Angeline, Senator Paulson’s black maid. On the eve of the Senate vote on an important bill against street terrorism, she ran away with confidential documents. Soon, the detective duo discovers that it’s not documents that have been stolen, but damning photos of the Senator. Their investigation, which takes place in a climate of extreme violence, triggers a war between street gangs – made up of black teenagers – who kill each other to take over the crack market.
For more details, go to the Kenzie and Gennaro reading order.
- A Drink Before the War (1994)
- Darkness, Take My Hand (1996)
- Sacred (1997)
- Gone, Baby, Gone (1998)
- Prayers for Rain (1999)
- Red Eye (short story, 2014)
- Moonlight Mile (2010)
The Coughlin Series
- The Given Day (2006) — The story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city’s most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife.
- Live by Night (2012) —Boston, 1926. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing, and enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw. But life on the dark side carries a heavy price, and one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. Until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.
- World Gone By (2015) — Ten years have passed since Joe Coughlin’s enemies destroyed his empire. Now the former crime kingpin works as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife’s homeland. A master who moves in and out of the black, white, and Cuban underworlds, Joe has everything—money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity. But success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past—and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full.
Stand-alone George Pelecanos Novels in Publication Order
- Mystic River (2001) – When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened—something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy’s daughter died covered in someone else’s blood.
- Shutter Island (2003) – Summer, 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them. But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe’s radical approach to psychiatry; an approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing …Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?
- The Drop (2014) – Three days after Christmas, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live rescues an abused puppy from a trash can and meets a damaged woman looking for something to believe in. As their relationship grows, they cross paths with the Chechen mafia; a man grown dangerous with age and thwarted hopes; two hapless stick-up artists; a very curious cop; and the original owner of the puppy, who wants his dog back. . . .
- Since We Fell (2017) – Rachel Childs is a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.
- Small Mercies (2023) – In the summer of 1974 a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessy is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Mary Pat has lived her entire life in the housing projects of “Southie,” the Irish American enclave that stubbornly adheres to old tradition and stands proudly apart. One night Mary Pat’s teenage daughter Jules stays out late and doesn’t come home. That same evening, a young Black man is found dead, struck by a subway train under mysterious circumstances. The two events seem unconnected. But Mary Pat, propelled by a desperate search for her missing daughter, begins turning over stones best left untouched—asking questions that bother Marty Butler, chieftain of the Irish mob, and the men who work for him, men who don’t take kindly to any threat to their business.
Short stories by George Pelecanos
- Coronado: Stories (2006) — A collection of five short stories and a play.
- Animal Rescue (2009) — Published in the anthology Boston Noir, edited by Lehane.
If you like Dennis Lehane, you may also want to see our David Baldacci reading order, or our guide to Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.This article was last updated on May 26, 2023.