Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book 107: Prayers for Rain

Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane

In a way, Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro series reminds me of Star Trek: the evens are good, the odds not so much. Of course in Lehane's case, all the novels are still good but there's a distinct difference in how good. Darkness, Take My Hand and Gone, Baby, Gone (the second and fourth) are definitely the best while A Drink Before the War and Sacred (the first and third) are the weakest. Prayers for Rain falls somewhere in the middle: good novel but not the same level as the evens.

Patrick is working solo now with the occasional help from Bubba, and Angie has left the neighborhood and gone corporate, seeing very little of Patrick and Bubba. After Patrick hears of a suicide on the news, he realizes that the woman had been a client of his six months earlier, and he becomes curious as to why she would have killed herself. He also feels guilty because she'd called him six weeks after he'd taken care of the issue she'd hired him for and he had missed her call and then forgotten about it. He starts looking into Karen's life and approaches Angie for help. They soon realize that somebody had psychologically messed with Karen, destroying her life slowly to see what would make her crack, and their interest in the case soon makes them the focus of the perpetrator.

It may be that I read the last three to close together so certain themes kind of repeated themselves (or maybe those were supposed to be character flaws) - as I mentioned about the last two, Kenzie and Gennaro don't always see the big picture and as a result, occasionally let themselves be played or used. As a reader, it just also means that you are expecting there to be someone in the background pulling all the strings or something more to it than at first visible. This also reminded me a little bit of Veronica Mars - I don't think it was much of an issue in the first and second season, but in the third season it definitely seemed like Veronica was on the wrong track the first half of the episode, then had some great epiphany/ somebody showed her how judgmental she was being, and then she finally figured out the real thing. I don't think the earlier Veronica jumped to conclusions as easily, and there were also episodes where she was on the right track all along; it was just a matter of getting the necessary proof. Basically, by the third season, it just seemed like there was a certain formula to all the episodes that wasn't quite as apparent in the previous seasons. Similarly, these novels are starting to develop a certain type of formula.

On the other hand, Prayers was a tighter and more focused novel. Of course, that's maybe not the right way to say it. All of Lehane's novels are very focused, and the plot points all tie into each other; he doesn't leave loose ends. I guess maybe it's just a more intimate setting or case. For example, in Sacred, there were billionaires, cults and a trip to Florida. Gone, Baby, Gone featured a child's disappearance, cops breaking the rules, crime lords and drugs deals. In comparison, Darkness, Take My Hand, which I liked the best, was focused on one specific investigation that for the most part didn't take any large turns. It started out because a man was possibly being threatened, and turned into a search for a serial killer, of whom the man ended up being a victim. Similarly, Prayers stays focused on the search for Karen's tormentor and possible motivation with very little turns into other directions. Everything else that happens has to do with this even when the tormentor focuses his attention on Patrick.

Basically, it was a good novel though it's about in the middle compared to the rest of the books in the series. I'd definitely recommend the series, though. I can't wait till my copy of The Given Day finally arrives - I ordered it over a week ago.

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