With the new season of Broadway Empire and the long-awaited, just released Live By night by Dennis Lehane, the era of Prohibition continues to rivet the attention of millions. As in Boardwalk Empire, the novel spins a tale of booze, violence, guns, gun molls, flappers, speakeasies, killers and the killed.
Live By Night is a fascinating saga of the rise of an ambitious petty thief to a full- blown mobster and killer. We follow him and his obsessive love affairs from the
Boston streets to prison, and to Tampa, running rum between Cuba
and . The
classic universality and clashing values between Joe and his father, Thomas, enriches
the plot’s twists and turns with psychological truth. Florida
Reading the novel was like visiting my own family. The names are different; Joe Caughlin was the invention of the author; Louis Rosen was my real-life father. Joe Caughlin ran rum from
Cuba; my father imported alcohol from to be
turned into liquor through stills. Fighting over bootlegging turf, they both
wound up murdered; Joe Coughlin with his feet in cement at the bottom of the
Mystic River; my dad, shot to death in the driveway of his own home. Canada
The novel addresses a haunting question of my life—can a criminal also be a good person? Against all odds, Lehane brilliantly creates a likeable outlaw with sympathy. Although I never knew my father, and my mother refused to talk about him, after reading They Live By Night I am inspired to think of my dad with a new-found compassion and solace.