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The Given Day (Coughlin, Book 1)

The Given Day  (Coughlin, Book 1)
Author: Dennis Lehane
ISBN 13: 9780380731879
ISBN 10: 380731878
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: 2009-09-15
Format: Paperback
Pages: 720
List Price: $15.99

In his long-awaited eighth novel, filled with the same suspenseful storytelling that shot Mystic River and Shutter Island to the top of the charts, award-winning author Dennis Lehane again puts all of his literary talents on display. The Great War is ending; the Bolsheviks are overthrowing the Tsar, the Kaiser is running roughshod over Europe, and the Spanish influenza is beginning its deadly rampage. On American shores, communist and socialist movements are swelling in numbers and anarchists are tossing bombs in the street. Harsh labor conditions, barrel-bottom pay, and the disenfranchisement of the working class have branded 'Strike!' onto the national consciousness. Set in an era of unprecedented uncertainty, The Given Day tells the story of those who learn the true consequences of demanding change-of asserting one's worth in a world bent on devaluing one's time and effort; of building common good from astonishing feats of uncommon strength; and of asking not to accept the way of the world, but to remake it.

Boston, 1918. Foot patroller, amateur boxer, and eldest of three brothers Danny Coughlin is Police Department royalty-the son of Captain Thomas Coughlin of Precinct 12. Danny monitors activities in the poor, predominantly Italian neighborhoods of the North End, a prime recruitment area for every major communist and socialist organization. Political dissent is in the air, fresh and intoxicating, and Danny is drawn into the ideological fray as a favor to his father-first as a mole in the policeman's own union, the Boston Social Club, then as an undercover agent infiltrating various radical circles. But Danny's experiences among underpaid workingmen and their forward-thinking leaders quickly turn him to the other side. To the tremendous embarrassment of his well-respected father, Danny's oratorical talent unexpectedly vaults him to a position of leadership in the BSC, just as the policemen's union sits at the cusp of securing recognition from the American Federation of Labor. In the eyes of Captain Coughlin, the once quietly humming city has become an angry hive of insurgent activity, unrecognizable to Danny's father and the cadre of 'Old Men' that built Boston with their own knuckle and grit. Cherished tenets of peace and order lie in the balance, and rumors of an impending policemen strike fuel fears among the higher-ups that Boston will quickly turn to ashes. The sudden eruption of a molasses tank on the North End seems like an evil omen-perhaps the work of anarchists, and a warning of more deadly explosions to come.

Meanwhile, former munitions factory worker, baseball player, and father-to-be Luther Lawrence is on the lam. Fingered in a deadly drug-related shooting in Tulsa, Luther has fled to the house of family friends in Boston while news of the killings cools down. Leaving behind his pregnant wife, Lila Waters, and the idyllic life they had begun to create in one of Tulsa's African-American neighborhoods, Luther begins work as the personal driver and repairman of the Coughlin household. After striking up an alliance with Danny and a fast friendship with the family's Irish domestic servant, Nora O'Shea, Luther comes to see that a powerful bond once connected Danny to Nora. As the mystery of their relationship unravels, Luther witnesses the gradual rekindling of love between the pair and grows determined to return to his own wife and now newborn son. But Luther's law-breaking past has followed him north, and first he must settle scores with those hot on his trail.

In a story of families given and families chosen, bonds created and bonds destroyed, The Given Day gives voice to the deepest meanings of union-the love and friendship that link Danny, Luther, and Nora; the working men that band together to fight for their rights; the personal alliances that drive Boston business and politics; and the teamwork that cinched Red Sox victory in the 1918 World Series. Even the young Babe Ruth-America's rising baseball hero and already a near-mythical figure-makes several extraordinary appearances throughout Lehane's narrative. Ruth's story also resonates with the personal trajectories of Danny and Luther. All thee men struggle against fierce mechanisms of social control-racism, xenophobia, and class warfare; the grind of an unforgiving economy; and the unwieldy expectations and empty promises of those in power.

Culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence of a nation at war with itself. Echoes with today's political climate are unmistakable, particularly as the distinction between intellectual dissension and terrorism continues to narrow by the day. Lehane has crafted a timeless story-as much a wonderfully rendered historical portrait as a startling mirror to contemporary American politics. Meticulously researched and expertly plotted, The Given Day will transport readers to an unforgettable time and place, where the meek are fighting for every inch of earth, and the logic of sanity has lost its power. As fiercely held convictions and righteous rage spill blood onto Boston's streets, Lehane's characters struggle to build new lives in a crumbling world-to find family in each other, and together confront the rising storm of change.

The Barnes & Noble Review

In his novels Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone, -- both turned into gritty, dark, and terrific films -- Dennis Lehane has used a crime-fiction framework to intimately explore the shadowy depths and hidden drama of his hometown. Lehane knows Boston like nobody else, from its Harvard-educated Brahmin elites to its ethnic working stiffs whose roots trace back to Ireland, Italy, and elsewhere. His tales map the city's twisting streets and alleyways, so often incomprehensible to outsiders, and delve beyond the surface provincialism of its anything-but-laid-back populace. Now, with The Given Day, Lehane turns his literary focus to Boston's troubled past.