Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are Boston private investigators operating out of an office in a church belfry in Dorchester. They get hired to undertake a seemingly easy case from three Massachusetts politicians: find a former cleaning woman who has stolen some sensitive documents from them. Of course the case turns out to be considerably less straightforward and vastly more dangerous than it initially appears.
This is the first of the celebrated Kenzie/Gennaro series and its voice, and that of Patrick, the narrator, is noticeably younger, certainly more wise-ass, than later novels of this series and later of Lehane’s other novels. In spite of this the novel offers a serious consideration of racial tensions in the Boston of the early 1990s in the guise of a very satisfying crime thriller. Typical of Lehane’s work it is run through with a strong sense of place and a Greene Catholic sensibility contemplating right, wrong and trying to discern the lesser of the evils in the midst of the routinised violence of poverty and criminal activity.