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Immerse yourself in the captivating world of prohibition-era crime and intrigue with “Live by Night,” the gripping audiobook by renowned author Dennis Lehane. In this comprehensive review, we’ll take a closer look at the intricate plot, dynamic characters, and expert storytelling that have made this audiobook a fan favorite.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the world of prohibition-era crime and suspense in “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane.
  • Explore the intricate plot and the compelling characters that bring the story to life.
  • Learn about the talented narrator who enhances the listening experience.
  • Find out why this audiobook has become a must-listen for fans of historical fiction and crime thrillers.
  • Gain insight into Lehane’s storytelling techniques, research, and historical accuracy.

About the Author

Dennis Lehane is an influential American author known for his gripping crime fiction and psychological thrillers. He was born on August 4, 1965, in Boston, Massachusetts, where he later used the city as the setting for many of his novels. Lehane began his writing career by publishing a series of private detective novels set in Boston with the main character, Patrick Kenzie, who appeared in five of his novels. Since then, he has published over a dozen books, most of which have been adapted into film or television projects, adding to his significant impact on pop culture.

Lehane’s writing style is notable for its crisp prose and well-crafted characters. He often explores themes such as morality, guilt, and redemption, and expertly blends the noir and crime fiction genres into his works. His ability to create suspenseful and unpredictable plot twists has earned him critical acclaim and a devoted fan following.

Some of Lehane’s most notable works include “Mystic River,” “Shutter Island,” “Gone, Baby, Gone,” and the “Coughlin” series, which includes “The Given Day” and “Live by Night.” His achievements include winning the Shamus Award, the Edgar Award, and the Anthony Award, among others.

“I think all good writing is a struggle. To write as well as you feel you can has to be a struggle, almost by definition because you could always improve.” – Dennis Lehane

Overview of “Live by Night”

If you’re looking for a historical fiction crime thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat, “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane should be at the top of your list. Set in the Prohibition era, the novel takes readers on a journey through the criminal underworld as they follow the story of Joe Coughlin, a World War I veteran turned gangster.

The novel’s central themes include loyalty, betrayal, and the consequences of one’s actions. The story is richly layered with multiple plotlines and complex characters that keep listeners hooked from start to finish.

Settings Key Plot Points
1920s Boston Joe Coughlin’s rise to power
Tampa Bay, Florida Joe’s involvement in rum-running
Cuba Joe’s complicated relationships with women

The audiobook’s fast-paced action is balanced by Lehane’s evocative descriptions of the Prohibition era and the characters’ inner lives. Listeners will find themselves transported back in time to a world of speakeasies, corrupt politicians, and dangerous alliances.

Throughout the story, Joe must navigate treacherous waters to protect his empire and the people he loves, leading to unexpected twists and turns that keep the listener guessing until the very end. “Live by Night” is both a gripping crime thriller and a thought-provoking exploration of morality and power.

“Dennis Lehane’s ‘Live by Night’ is a masterful crime novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.”

Audiobook Narration

Good narration can turn a great audiobook into an unforgettable experience. In “Live by Night,” the talented narrator, Jim Frangione, brings the Prohibition-era setting and colorful characters to life with his engaging performance. Frangione’s rich voice and expert pacing make it easy to become fully immersed in the story, transporting listeners to a bygone era of speakeasies, gangsters, and danger.

“Frangione’s performance is top-notch, perfectly capturing the mood and tone of the story. He does an excellent job of voicing the different characters and dialects, ensuring that each one feels unique and authentic.”

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you won’t want to miss out on Frangione’s expert narration in “Live by Night.” It’s a perfect example of how a skilled narrator can elevate an already-great book to new heights.

Engaging Characters

“Live by Night” is a tale of complex characters with intricate relationships. Each of the characters has a unique background, motivations, and personality that, when combined, create a riveting ensemble.

Joe Coughlin, the protagonist, is a fascinating character who challenges the listener’s perception of morality. Coming from a respectable family but choosing a life of crime, he’s a man caught between two worlds. His struggle to reconcile those two worlds is a constant theme throughout the audiobook.

Emma Gould, the love interest and a tragic figure, represents the challenges women faced in a male-dominated society. Her complex relationship with Joe and her decisions during the audiobook shape the story in significant ways.

Other characters that populate the audiobook include Graciela Corrales, a Cuban immigrant with a powerful sense of justice, and Dion Bartolo, Joe’s childhood friend, and partner in crime.

“The characters in ‘Live by Night’ feel like real people dealing with real issues. Each one has their own story that could easily be explored in greater depth. Lehane smartly weaves their narratives together to create a compelling tapestry that never feels overcrowded.”

Prohibition Era Setting

Transport yourself back in time to the captivating setting of the prohibition era in “Live by Night.” Dennis Lehane expertly captures the essence of the time period through masterful storytelling and vivid descriptions of the bustling cities and clandestine hideouts of the era. From the smoky speakeasies to the sprawling estates of the wealthy elite, Lehane paints a richly detailed and atmospheric world that immerses listeners in the thrilling world of organized crime and political corruption.

Lehane’s meticulous historical research and attention to detail ensure that the setting of “Live by Night” is authentic and accurate, providing listeners with a realistic glimpse into a pivotal period in American history. Whether you are a history buff or a fan of crime thrillers, the prohibition era setting of “Live by Night” is sure to captivate and transport you to a bygone era of American culture and society.

Intriguing Plot Twists

One of the main reasons “Live by Night” stands out as a must-listen audiobook is its intriguing plot twists. The author, Dennis Lehane, masterfully weaves unexpected surprises and suspenseful moments throughout the narrative, keeping listeners on the edge of their seats.

From the very beginning, listeners are drawn into a world full of danger, deceit, and crime. As the story progresses, the plot twists and turns, taking listeners on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and revelations. Each twist is expertly crafted, building on the tension and suspense that drive the story forward.

But it’s not just the plot twists themselves that make “Live by Night” so gripping. It’s also how they are revealed and how they impact the characters and the overall narrative. Each twist is a turning point, forcing the characters to make difficult decisions and revealing deeper layers to their motivations and relationships.

“‘Live by Night’ is a masterclass in suspenseful storytelling, with plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.”

Whether you’re a fan of crime thrillers, historical fiction, or simply love a good plot twist, “Live by Night” delivers in spades. It’s a testament to Dennis Lehane’s skill as a writer and his ability to keep listeners engaged from start to finish.

Themes and Messages

One of the most compelling aspects of “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane is the depth of themes and messages explored in the narrative. Through the eyes of protagonist Joe Coughlin, Lehane tackles complex issues surrounding morality, loyalty, and power. The story grapples with the consequences of choices made by the characters, as well as the broader societal implications of Prohibition-era crime and corruption.

“Live by Night is not simply a tale of gangsters and law enforcement, but of human nature and the struggle between good and evil.” – New York Times Book Review

Furthermore, Lehane’s exploration of gender roles and relationships adds a layer of nuance and depth to the story. From the strong-willed character of Emma Gould to the complex and often fraught dynamics between Joe and the women in his life, “Live by Night” challenges traditional tropes of masculinity and femininity.

Ultimately, “Live by Night” presents a multifaceted examination of the human experience, blending elements of historical fiction, crime thriller, and social commentary. Lehane’s masterful storytelling and nuanced exploration of themes make this audiobook a truly unforgettable experience.

Live by Night Themes and Messages

Pacing and Writing Style

One of the standout features of “Live by Night” is Dennis Lehane’s masterful pacing and writing style. From the opening moments to the thrilling conclusion, Lehane keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, always maintaining a sense of tension and momentum. Whether through action-packed set pieces or intimate character moments, the audiobook never lags or loses steam.

Lehane’s writing style is equally impressive, with vivid descriptions, snappy dialogue, and compelling narration that draws listeners in and keeps them hooked. His prose is distinct and authoritative, perfectly suited to the prohibition-era setting and the cast of characters that populate the story.

“Lehane’s prose is crisp and assured, with a keen eye for detail and a trenchant wit that makes even the most mundane moments come alive.”

In many ways, the success of “Live by Night” hinges on Lehane’s skilled writing and pacing, which he uses to create a richly textured and immersive world that listeners won’t want to leave.

Historical Accuracy

One of the significant strengths of “Live by Night” is its attention to historical accuracy and portrayal of the prohibition era. Lehane conducted extensive research to bring authenticity to the setting and characters, showcasing a deep understanding of the time period’s intricacies and nuances.

From the speakeasies to the gangsters, Lehane masterfully captures the essence of the era, immersing listeners in a richly detailed and atmospheric world. The dialogue and language used by the characters also reflect the language of the time, further adding to the audiobook’s historical accuracy and realism.

“The prohibition era was a fascinating time in American history, and Lehane’s attention to detail is evident in his portrayal of the setting and characters. He manages to transport listeners to a different time and place, giving a truly immersive and authentic experience.”

Critical Reception

The audiobook “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane has received critical acclaim from readers and reviewers alike for its compelling storyline, well-defined characters, and suspenseful plot twists. Critics have praised Lehane’s meticulous attention to historical detail and his ability to transport listeners back in time to the prohibition era.

The audiobook has garnered an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, with many reviewers hailing it as a “masterpiece” and a “gripping tale.” Publishers Weekly called it “lyrical and laconic,” highlighting Lehane’s “evocative prose” and impressive storytelling. The audiobook also won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2013.

Overall, “Live by Night” has left a significant impact on listeners throughout the years since its release, making it a must-listen for fans of historical fiction and crime thrillers.

Comparisons to Other Works

While “Live by Night” stands out as a unique and well-crafted audiobook in its own right, it can be helpful to compare it to other works in the genre to fully appreciate its strengths. Fans of Dennis Lehane’s other works, such as “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island,” will find a similar level of intrigue, complex characters, and attention to detail in “Live by Night.”

For those who enjoy historical fiction and crime thrillers, “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo and “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr offer similar explorations of organized crime and moral ambiguity in vivid historical settings. However, “Live by Night” has a distinct voice and perspective that sets it apart from these works and makes it a standout selection for fans of the genre.

“Live by Night is vintage Lehane. A terrific story set against a world that beautifully evokes faded, sometimes violent, glory. It’s a tour-de-force, brilliantly interweaving storylines involving a rogue’s gallery of fascinating characters. This is a must read for anyone who loves great storytelling.” – Harlan Coben, author of “The Boy from the Woods”

Impact on Pop Culture

Since its release, “Live by Night” has made a significant impact on pop culture, extending beyond the realm of literature and audiobooks. The novel has been adapted for the big screen as a crime drama film, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. The film, which shares the title of the novel, received mixed reviews but still managed to draw attention to the story and its themes.

The audiobook has also sparked numerous fan discussions, particularly on social media platforms, where listeners have shared their insights and opinions on the story’s characters, plot twists, and themes. Many reviewers have praised Dennis Lehane’s captivating storytelling style and the way he portrays the gritty reality of the prohibition era.

“Live by Night” has also had an influence on other works of historical fiction and crime thrillers, inspiring authors and creators to explore the same time period in their own stories. The novel’s vivid and atmospheric setting has set a high standard for recreating the prohibition era in popular culture.

“At its heart, ‘Live by Night’ is a gripping tale of power, greed, and morality set against the backdrop of a unique time in American history. The audiobook’s impact reaches far beyond its initial release, earning a spot among the most beloved and influential works of historical fiction and crime thrillers in pop culture.”

Recommendations and Final Thoughts

After delving into the world of “Live by Night,” it’s safe to say that this audiobook is a must-listen for fans of historical fiction and crime thrillers. Dennis Lehane’s masterful storytelling in combination with the captivating narration makes for an immersive experience that is sure to keep listeners engaged from start to finish.

For those who enjoy intricate plots and well-developed characters, “Live by Night” offers both in abundance. The richly detailed setting of the prohibition era is expertly captured, transporting listeners to a time filled with suspense, intrigue, and danger. The plot twists are unexpected, and the suspenseful moments provoke deep thought and analysis.

Ultimately, “Live by Night” is a gripping audiobook that will leave a lasting impression. We highly recommend it to anyone seeking an enthralling listening experience. Whether you’re a fan of Dennis Lehane’s works or simply enjoy a well-crafted audiobook, “Live by Night” is an excellent choice that is sure to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy this thrilling journey back to the prohibition era.


As we conclude our comprehensive audiobook review of “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane, we highly recommend this gripping tale to listeners who enjoy historical fiction, crime thrillers, or those who simply seek a well-crafted and engaging audiobook. Lehane’s intricate plot, compelling characters, and suspenseful storytelling are expertly paired with outstanding audiobook narration that brings the prohibition era to life.

Through our exploration of the author’s background, writing style, and notable works, we gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of Lehane’s expertise in crafting captivating narratives. “Live by Night” is a testament to that expertise and a prime example of his literary prowess.

This audiobook brings together a cast of intriguing characters that inhabit a vividly recreated historical setting, transporting listeners to a time filled with social, moral, and ethical dilemmas, in a world where anything is possible. Lehane’s attention to detail, pacing, and distinctive writing style creates a richly atmospheric and suspenseful listening experience.

We also examined the critical reception of “Live by Night” and its impact on popular culture. We discovered that this enthralling tale has left a lasting impression beyond its initial release, and we believe it will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.

Overall, we highly recommend “Live by Night” for audiobook enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable listening experience. It is an outstanding example of the power of storytelling, and we are confident that it will leave a lasting impression on all those who venture into its captivating world.


What is "Live by Night" about?

“Live by Night” is a gripping audiobook set during the prohibition era. It follows the story of a young man who becomes involved in organized crime and the challenges he faces.

Who is the author of "Live by Night"?

Dennis Lehane is the talented author behind “Live by Night.” He is known for his captivating storytelling and has a knack for creating compelling characters.

What can I expect from the narration of "Live by Night"?

The audiobook is expertly narrated, bringing the characters and settings to life. The narrator skillfully enhances the listening experience, immersing you in the thrilling narrative.

Are there any memorable plot twists in "Live by Night"?

Yes, “Live by Night” is filled with intriguing plot twists that will keep you hooked. The unexpected surprises and suspenseful moments add to the overall intensity of the story.

How historically accurate is "Live by Night"?

Dennis Lehane diligently researched the prohibition era to ensure historical accuracy in “Live by Night.” The attention to detail and authentic portrayal of the time period make for an immersive reading experience.

What are some of the themes explored in "Live by Night"?

“Live by Night” delves into various themes, such as social, moral, and ethical dilemmas. Lehane tackles these complex issues while weaving a captivating narrative.

How does "Live by Night" compare to other works by Dennis Lehane?

“Live by Night” showcases Dennis Lehane’s unique writing style and storytelling abilities. While it may have similarities to his other works, it stands out on its own due to its prohibition era setting and compelling characters.

Has "Live by Night" received positive reviews?

Yes, “Live by Night” has garnered positive reviews from readers and reviewers alike. It has received accolades and praise for its engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and vivid historical setting.

Would you recommend "Live by Night" to others?

Absolutely! “Live by Night” is a must-listen for fans of historical fiction, crime thrillers, and captivating audiobooks. It offers a thrilling and immersive experience that is sure to captivate listeners.

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