No good deed goes unpunished. Twelve years after Patrick Kenzie located kidnapped four-year-old Amanda McCready, events conspire to return him to her life. Working for an investigative firm that requires complete discretion when dealing with clients, Kenzie finds that the level of obsequiousness required has put him at odds with his employers. In other words, he allows his disdain for spoiled trust-fund babies who flout the law to show on his face.
But with a wife and baby to support, Patrick is desperate to score full-time employment with benefits. His wife, Angie Gennaro (partner in Gone, Baby, Gone), is nearly finished with her degree, everything they need for financial security just out of reach. A phone call from Amanda’s grandmother sends Patrick - and Angie - back to the site of his most difficult case: Amanda, now a teen, is missing again. With no other jobs in sight, Patrick can’t help but oblige.
The years haven’t changed Helene McCready, other than where she calls home. Moved to a nicer neighborhood, Helene is still enamored of the criminal life, involved with a man whose specialty is identity theft. As Patrick plunges back into this nightmare existence where guns and drugs are everyday fare, Lehane proves once again what a brilliant storyteller he is. The acerbic humor that accompanies Kenzie’s discoveries gives this tale the patina of sophistication, Patrick quickly adapting to the mindset of his prey: petty criminals, a teen wise beyond her years, the usual chaos of drug addiction and the hard-edged brutality of the Russian mob.
Once Patrick has committed to finding Amanda again, nothing will deter him, but the responsibility of wife and child add another layer to his resolve. Amanda eventually challenges him to defend the decision to return her to her unfit mother after her kidnapping: “You did the right thing. But you were still wrong.” Still, there’s no resolution for Patrick’s dilemma, his nature to do the right thing even if it isn’t popular - or the object of his investigation becomes the victim of the very woman who is entrusted with her care.
The cast of characters are shady and unattractive - the detritus of a culture that floats just below the surface on the leftovers of a technologically vulnerable public. There is plenty of violence to go with the indictment of a teen culture with too many apps and, like, a repetitive vocabulary, drug-addled adults who throw children in the line of fire for a profit and the general soullessness of a society at odds with its better self. Lehane is always a wild ride and a joy to read, even when he punches you in the face.