Dennis Lehane Books In Order – Complete List of Novels

Dennis Lehane is a New York Times Bestselling author whose gritty crime novels have earned him a devoted following and critical acclaim. Dennis Lehane’s books that are most popular are Shutter Island and Mystic River (both which were made into movie with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon, and Leonardo Di Caprio respectively), however, the author has written several other worthwhile books, including his Kenzie & Gennaro series and the Coughlin series.

Here is the list of the Dennis Lehane books in order for his entire writing library.


New Dennis Lehane Books

Small Mercies
Small Mercies, 2023

Kenzie and Gennaro Books in Publication Order

  1. A Drink Before the War, 1994
  2. Darkness, Take My Hand, 1996
  3. Sacred, 1997
  4. Gone, Baby, Gone, 1998
  5. Prayers for Rain, 1999
  6. Moonlight Mile, 2010

Coughlin Books in Publication Order

  1. The Given Day, 2008
  2. Live by Night, 2012
  3. World Gone By, 2015

Dennis Lehane Standalone Novels In Publication Order


Akashik Noir Series Contribution in Publication Order


Short Story Collections


Anthologies Contributions in Publication Order


Kenzie and Gennaro Series Overview

How many books are in the Kenzie and Gennaro series?

The Kenzie and Gennaro series consists of six novels that follow the investigations of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, two private detectives based in Boston. The series consists of six novels: A Drink Before the War (1994), Darkness, Take My Hand (1996), Sacred (1997), Gone, Baby, Gone (1998), Prayers for Rain (1999), and Moonlight Mile (2010).

The series is known for its gritty realism and its portrayal of the dark underbelly of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods. Kenzie and Gennaro are not your typical hard-boiled detectives, but rather complex and flawed characters who often find themselves in dangerous and morally ambiguous situations. Lehane’s writing captures the nuances of Boston’s culture and dialect, creating a vivid sense of place that adds to the series’ realism.

In A Drink Before the War, the first novel in the series, Kenzie and Gennaro are hired by a Massachusetts state senator to find some incriminating documents that were stolen from him. The case leads them to investigate a series of racially motivated murders and corruption within the state government. The novel established Lehane’s reputation as a master of suspenseful storytelling and introduced readers to Kenzie and Gennaro’s complex relationship.

Darkness, Take My Hand sees Kenzie and Gennaro investigating a series of gruesome murders that seem to be connected to a psychiatric hospital where Kenzie’s mother was once a patient. The novel delves into Kenzie’s troubled past and explores themes of family, identity, and mental illness.

In Sacred, Kenzie and Gennaro are hired by a wealthy couple to find their missing daughter, a case that leads them into the seedy underworld of drug addiction and prostitution. The novel explores the theme of lost innocence and the struggle to find redemption in a world of corruption and violence.

Gone, Baby, Gone is perhaps the most famous novel in the series, thanks in part to its critically acclaimed film adaptation directed by Ben Affleck. The novel sees Kenzie and Gennaro investigating the kidnapping of a young girl and confronting the harsh realities of child abuse and neglect. The novel raises difficult questions about morality and the role of law enforcement in protecting the vulnerable.

Prayers for Rain sees Kenzie investigating the disappearance of a woman he once loved, leading him into the world of internet pornography and cybercrime. The novel explores themes of addiction, guilt, and the search for redemption.

Moonlight Mile, the final novel in the series, sees Kenzie and Gennaro reunited to investigate the disappearance of a young woman who may be connected to a case they worked on years ago. The novel explores the theme of personal responsibility and the consequences of past actions.

The Kenzie and Gennaro series combines suspenseful storytelling with complex characters and explores themes of morality, redemption, and the struggle to do what’s right in a world of corruption and violence.


Coughlin Series Overview

How many books are in the Coughlin series?

There are three Coughlin books which follow the life of Joseph Coughlin, a Boston-born gangster who rises through the ranks of organized crime during the Prohibition era. The series consists of three novels: The Given Day (2008), Live by Night (2012), and World Gone By (2015).

Set against the backdrop of significant events in American history, including the Boston Police Strike of 1919 and the Cuban Revolution, the Coughlin series explores themes of power, corruption, loyalty, and the struggle to maintain one’s humanity in a world of violence and greed.

The Given Day, the first novel in the series, begins in 1918 and follows the lives of several characters, including Joseph Coughlin, a young man who becomes involved with the Irish American gangster Danny Coughlin. The novel portrays the tension between the working class and the wealthy elite in Boston and the social and political upheaval of the time. Joseph’s journey takes him from being a member of the Boston Police Department to working as an enforcer for a local gang, ultimately leading him to confront his own values and beliefs.

Live by Night picks up several years after the events of The Given Day and focuses exclusively on Joseph Coughlin as he becomes deeply involved in the world of organized crime. The novel explores the rise of the illegal alcohol trade during Prohibition and the violent power struggles among different criminal factions. Joseph’s relationships with women, including his mistress and the daughter of a rival gangster, are a significant part of the novel, as are themes of identity, loyalty, and betrayal.

World Gone By takes place in the 1940s and follows an older, wiser Joseph Coughlin as he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving the mob and the government. The story explores the changing landscape of organized crime during the post-World War II era and Joseph’s relationships with his family, including his son and his estranged wife. The novel’s themes of morality and personal responsibility come to a head as Joseph is forced to confront the consequences of his past actions.

The Coughlin series is a masterful exploration of the human experience within the context of organized crime. Lehane’s writing combines vivid historical detail with complex characters and themes, resulting in a series that is both thrilling and emotionally resonant. The series showcases Lehane’s versatility as a writer, as he seamlessly shifts between different genres, from historical fiction to crime thriller. The Coughlin book series is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, crime fiction, and anyone interested in exploring the darker side of American history.


Dennis Lehane Biography – About the Author

Dennis Lehane is a highly acclaimed American author known for his gritty and suspenseful crime novels, many of which have been adapted into popular films. Dennis Lehane was born on August 4, 1965, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family. His father worked as a supervisor for the Sears and Roeback, and his mother worked at a school’s cafeteria in Boston. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised primarily by his mother in the tough neighborhoods of Boston.

As a child, Lehane was an avid reader and was drawn to the works of authors such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He also became fascinated with crime and the criminal underworld, which would later inform much of his writing. Lehane attended Boston College High School and then the college itself , earning a degree in English and creative writing. After college, he worked odd jobs as a counselor for abused children and a freelance writer for a local newspaper.

Dennis Lehane’s first novel, A Drink Before the War, was published in 1994 and introduced his series characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, private investigators based in Boston. The novel was a critical and commercial success and established Lehane as a rising talent in the crime fiction genre. Lehane followed up with four more novels featuring Kenzie and Gennaro, including Darkness, Take My Hand and Sacred, which further cemented his reputation as a master of suspenseful storytelling. There is also the Graphic Novels Shutter Island that the author has published soon after.

In addition to his book list of series of novels, Dennis Lehane has also written several standalone works that have earned critical acclaim. His novel Mystic River, published in 2001, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film directed by Clint Eastwood. The novel tells the story of three childhood friends from a working-class Boston neighborhood who are reunited as adults under tragic circumstances. Dennis Lehane’s novel Shutter Island, published in 2003, about an asylum for the criminally insane, also became a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Dennis Lehane’s writing is characterized by its gritty realism and exploration of complex social issues. His novels often deal with crime, corruption, and redemption themes and are set against the backdrop of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods. His writing has been praised for its vivid sense of place and ability to capture the nuances of Boston’s culture and dialect.

His vivid storytelling and exploration of complex social issues have made him a standout voice in the crime fiction genre. The proper order to read Dennis Lehane’s books is not as important for his stand-alone novels, but reading his series in the right chronological order is worthwhile.

Despite his success as a writer, Lehane has remained grounded and has spoken openly about the challenges of the writing life. In an interview with The Guardian, he said, “Being a writer is hard. You have to be willing to fail, and fail a lot. You have to be willing to be alone, and to doubt yourself, and to work harder than you ever thought possible.” Dennis Lehane has also been vocal about his struggles with addiction and his commitment to sobriety.

In recent years, Lehane has continued to write and publish acclaimed novels, including Live by Night, Since We Fell, and Small Mercies. He has also been involved in social and political causes and has used his platform to speak out about issues such as gun violence and income inequality.

While most authors are best known for their mystery series (e.g., the author duo Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child are best known for their Pendergast series and less for their standalone books written by each separately, or Vince Flynn for his Mitch Rapp series rather than his standalone novel), Dennis Lehane is best known for his two standalone books.

One reason is that they are both made into two popular movies, however, I find it a pity not to read his series as well, which make some fascinating stories.

There is lots of violence and terror in these books, and some of the descriptions of what the killers do to their victims often made people even stop reading for a while. However, the author is alos known for his gallows humour that comes through the books, and the vivid descriptions of everything Boston related.

In addition to his novels, Dennis Lehane has also written for television, including the HBO series The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. He has also worked as a screenwriter and has adapted several of his own novels for the screen. Lehane’s other honors include the Shamus Award, the Edgar Award, and the Massachusetts Book Award. In 2013, he was awarded the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award in recognition of his contributions to the writing community. His short story collection Coronaro short was selected for The Best Mystery Short stories and The Best American short story.

Dennis Lehane Awards and Nominations

  • Darkness, Take My Hand – Dilys Awards Best Book nominee in 1997
  • Sacred – Dilys Awards Best Book nominee in 1998
  • Sacred – Shamus Awards Best Novel nominee in 1998
  • Gone, Baby, Gone – Anthony Awards Best Novel nominee in 1999
  • Gone, Baby, Gone – Barry Award Best Novel winner in 1999
  • Gone, Baby, Gone – Shamus Awards Best Novel nominee in 1999
  • Prayers for Rain – Shamus Awards Best Novel nominee in 2000
  • Mystic River – Anthony Awards Best Novel winner in 2002
  • Mystic River – Barry Award Best Novel winner in 2002
  • Mystic River – Macavity Awards Best Novel nominee in 2002
  • Shutter Island – Anthony Awards Best Novel nominee in 2004
  • Moonlight Mile – Dilys Awards Best Book nominee in 2011
  • Live by Night – Edgar Awards Best Novel winner in 2013
  • Since We Fell – Dagger Awards Best Book nominee in 2018
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17 Comments

  1. I own and read every book he has written. My all time favorite was Mystic River.
    I worked with his brother for few years who was the one telling me about his brothers books. Became a big fan after
    Mystic River became a such a great movie.

  2. What about his short stories and the order in which they came out. Like in face off and Boston noir 1 and 2

    1. Huh, you’re right, I missed it! Probably because it was one of my least favorite books by the author. Added it now.

  3. I loved shutter Island and mystic river. Half thru live by night and find it quite boring. Hope it picks up a bit when Joe gets involved with Figgis daughter. Keep thinking Emma will come back. Guess I will have to keep reading. Usually like to watch movie after but think I will pass this time. Loved shutter book and movie.

    1. Just finished live by.night. See where it is left open for a next book. Disappointed all the women died or left Joe. Had a hard time reading it.

  4. During his first three K and G novels, he references characters and events that I have never read about. Am I missing something? For example, Angie’s husband death mentioned in Sacred. And Grace and her daughter, Mae.

    1. Angie’s husband, Phil is in the first 2 books A Drink Before the War & Darkness, Take My Hand. Grace and Mae are in Darkness… as well!

  5. Has anyone read the ‘Coughlin series’ if so is it nessecary for me to read the first book or can I just skip to the second book “Live by Night” ? Any help will be greatly appreciated

    1. Read them in order as knowing the family back story will increase your enjoyment of the series

  6. I have all of Dennis Lehane’s Books except World Gone By which I will be purchasing for my collection
    very shortly. I do have a Kindle but am enjoying having personal copies of his books. Love his mysteries.
    Formerly from Boston, I have savored the stories from that area and location. Now living in Fl the mention
    of Ybor City and Tampa have piqued my interest. Keep up the great work Dennis!
    A true fan,
    Diane
    Bradenton FL

    1. Hi Diane: I am working my way through Lehane’s works. But if you’ve read them all and like stories set in Boston area you should check out all the Robert B. Parker “Spenser” series. He was the trendsetter for Boston area Private Investigators and known as the Dean of American Crime fiction. Sadly he passed away in January 2010. The family has contracted with author Ace Atkins who has done an excellent job continuing the Spenser series. But I’d read the originals first.
      Wikipedia:
      Robert Brown Parker (September 17, 1932 – January 18, 2010) was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the mid-1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced. His works incorporate encyclopedic knowledge of the Boston metropolitan area.[3] Parker was 77 when he died of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts; discovered at his desk by his wife Joan, he had been working on a novel.[1][4][5] The Spenser novels have been cited by critics and bestselling authors such as Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane[6] as not only influencing their own work but reviving and changing the detective genre.[7]

  7. Anymore kenzie/gennaro and gabby books on the horizon? First introduce to characters in the faceoff book. Never read any before but since may I have read every one in the series. I am thoroughly hooked.

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