Lehane's breakout standalone novel earned him a firmly affixed place near the top of every mystery lover's Best of 2001 list. This searingly powerful novel about the way grief and guilt can haunt is not to be missed.

The novel opens 25 years ago, on a summer day in the life of childhood pals Dave Boyle, Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus. Lehane paints their world in vivid colors, clearly outlining the blue collar existence, the mostly Irish neighborhood, and the carefully textured dynamics between the boys. Thus it's all the more jarring when two strangers attempt to abduct them, but only succeed in taking Dave. He's found four days later, having escaped untold horrific abuse.

Flash forward to the boys as adults: Sean is a cop, Jimmy has nefarious mob connections and Dave is still overcoming the pain of his past. When Jimmy's daughter is killed, Dave becomes the main suspect and Sean is called in on the investigation. Though their friendship has disintegrated over the years, the past still has a stranglehold on the men and has serious impact on the investigation.

Lehane's prose is fluid and wrenching, making it clear he's one of the finest writers around. The story is one that will resonate, packing an emotional wallop impossible to ignore. (Apr., 480 pp., $7.99)

Reviewed by: 
Tara Gelsomino