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Literature / Kenzie and Gennaro Series

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A Drink Before the War, the first book in the series

A series of Hardboiled Detective novels that started the career of Dennis Lehane, now famous as the author behind Shutter Island and Mystic River, both of which were adapted into successful films. Gone Baby Gone, the fourth book in the series, was also adapted into a film, with Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan playing the title characters.

The premise of the books is fairly simple: Patrick Kenzie is a wise-ass private detective working out of the tough, working-class Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Always by his side is his faithful partner, the beautiful Angie Gennaro. Though they start out as Platonic Life-Partners, Patrick (in his narration) makes no secret of the fact that he's been in love with Angie since they were both teenagers. With their small, struggling detective agency, Patrick and Angie take it upon themselves to help every poor, downtrodden Bostonian who comes their way. Along the way, they end up tangling with everybody from drug lords, to serial killers, to Corrupt Corporate Executives to crazed stalkers, standing up for what's right and occasionally leaving corpses in their wake. Despite the loads of horror that they have to deal with, Patrick and Angie manage to keep their sanity through the Power of Friendship, both with each other and with the other residents of their close-nit neighborhood. Naturally, they end up falling in love with each other along the way.

The books are also rather notable for their strong adherence to specific themes in every installment, touching on many different shades of vice and evil as they examine the many diverse faces of criminality and injustice. The first book, for example, deals heavily with institutionalized racism and urban poverty in its portrayal of inner-city violence and political corruption, while the second deals with primal evil and insanity in its portrayal of serial killers, the third deals with greed and avarice in its portrayal of crooked businessmen, and the fourth deals with apathy in its portrayal of parental neglect—showing that apathy can often be just as harmful as outright violence.

With a heavy dose of realism and occasional social commentary, the series manages to subvert many cliches of detective fiction, and it's considered a prime example of "Neo Noir". In particular, it strongly averts Status Quo Is God, with many deliberate arcs over the course of six books.

The books published so far:

  • A Drink Before the War - Patrick and Angie take an assignment from a powerful politician to find some "important documents" that were stolen by his cleaning lady. In their search, they end up stumbling into the middle of a vicious gang war that threatens to tear their neighborhood apart.
  • Darkness, Take My Hand - Patrick and Angie spring into action when a long-dormant serial killer apparently resumes his killing spree. A pretty impressive feat, considering he's been behind bars for over fifteen years...
  • Sacred - Patrick and Angie agree to help a wealthy recluse find his missing daughter. Patrick also looks into the disappearance of his old friend/mentor, who vanished while investigating the same case. Features a brief departure from the series's typical Boston setting, with the action temporarily relocating to Tampa, Florida.
  • Gone Baby Gone - Patrick and Angie get pulled into the fray when a little girl's mysterious disappearance causes a huge stir in the neighborhood. Along the way, Patrick is forced to make the hardest choice of his career.
  • Prayers for Rain - After splitting up in the fourth book, Patrick and Angie reunite to take down a psychopathic stalker.
  • Moonlight Mile - Picking up eleven years after the last book, Patrick and Angie are a married couple with a daughter. They get pulled into one more crazy case when a teenage Amanda McCready (the vanished girl from the fourth book) vanishes again.

Tropes present in the series:

  • Abusive Parents: A recurring theme.
    • Patrick's father regularly beat him and his sister; after Patrick accidentally started a house fire in the kitchen when he was 11, his father burned him on the stomach with a clothing iron as punishment.
    • Brian Corliss from Moonlight Mile proves to be such a Jerkass to his daughter Sophie that Angie has to excuse herself to avoid punching him in the face. After his wife divorced him he only started fighting for his daughter Sophie's custody when he found out his ex-wife was living with another woman, and wore shirts with homophobic slogans around them, and then the day her mother died of stomach cancer had the gall to show up outside the hospital, and exploited the fact that (then) New Hampshire law had no protections for same-sex spouses over children to win custody over her. Once Sophie lives with him he then tries to take complete control of her life, including what she eats, and threatens to throw her out of the house if she doesn't lose ten pounds. It's no wonder she winds up running away.
  • Action Girl: Angie. Not as blatant as most examples, but Patrick makes it clear that she’s a hell of a lot more formidable in a fight than he is.
  • Affably Evil: A common trait of The Dragon in Lehane's work, notably Pine in Darkness, Take My Hand and Yefim in Moonlight Mile.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Well-intentioned extremists Jack Doyle and Remy Broussard in Gone Baby Gone.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Patrick and Phil with Gerry Glynn near the end of the second book.
  • Always Someone Better: Jay Becker, introduced in the third book. He's every bit as skilled as Patrick, but he's slicker and much more experienced, and he has a lucrative job with a big-time detective agency.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Over the course of the series, Bubba stockpiles loads of high explosives and combat weaponry, and he kills, maims, and/or tortures scads of Patrick's enemies. When he gets sent to jail at the beginning of the third book, it's for having an unregistered handgun.
  • Ascended Extra: Phil Dimassi in the second book, after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Asshole Victim: Bubba gives a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Kevin Hurlihy, a Psycho for Hire who begins shadowing Patrick's girlfriend to intimidate Patrick.
  • The Atoner: This is why Patrick ends up on the case in both Prayers for Rain and Moonlight Mile.
  • Author Appeal: As rough as Dorchester can be (i.e. VERY) Lehane's love of his native Boston still comes through.
    • Lehane is also a well-known dog-lover, and demonstrates this after a fashion by having the Big Bad of Prayers for Rain kill a dog For the Evulz.
  • Badass Normal: Both Patrick and Angie. As Lehane puts it:
    I decided, I do not want the people [in my books] to be veterans of any war I don't want them to know some sort of obscure Eastern kung fu philosophy that'll help them whoop ass. I want them to be regular, vulnerable people. They're not braver than most people, but they stick with it.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Fillmore lounge, in the fourth book.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Evandro Arujo in the second book goes into prison a harmless petty thief, but his experience inside leaves him so thoroughly Ax-Crazy that he walks out as a disciple of a serial killer. His hair also goes white from the trauma of what happened to him while he was inside. Because he was reborn from a traumatic experience, and because of his ghostly white hair, he's considered "The Holy Ghost" to Gerry Glynn's "Father" and Alec Hardiman's "Son".
  • Berserk Button: Threatening Patrick and Angie (particularly Angie) is a good way to get on Bubba’s bad side.
    • In a much darker example, catching someone being irresponsible with fire will drive Patrick's dad into an unstoppable rage.
    • Lionel McCready in Gone Baby Gone, a gentle, even-tempered guy who's pretty much the only person still making excuses for his Jerkass sister, completely loses his shit when said sister insults his wife and makes a racist remark.
  • Big Bad: Generally one per book:
    • Marion Socia in A Drink Before the War
    • Gerry Glynn in Darkness, Take My Hand
    • Desiree and Trevor Stone in Sacred
    • Remy Broussard and Jack Doyle in Gone Baby Gone
    • Scott Pearse in Prayers for Rain
    • Kirill and Violeta Borzakov in Moonlight Mile
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Kenny Hendricks in Moonlight Mile; he has Patrick beaten and delivers demands he drop his investigation, but once it becomes clear that he's just a flunkie for some much worse people, he's a Butt-Monkey for the remainder of the book.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A hallmark of the series. Gone Baby Gone is the most obvious example.
  • Black Comedy: Though the books are pretty serious, Patrick's narration carries a definite undercurrent of this, which Word of God is a defense mechanism. The climax of Moonlight Mile, for instance, alternates between horrific and screamingly funny.
  • Boston: Word of God is he intentionally presents a version of the city that's more in line with how it was when he was growing up, and the modern Boston is actually nowhere near as bad as portrayed in his books, in part thanks to the "Boston Miracle" in the 1990s that drastically reduced violent crime.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: In Prayers for Rain the Big Bad actually brags about the fact that he's engaged in this with the murder victim, his sister Karen. Except he's not actually his victim's brother and is only posing as him.
  • Bully Hunter: Both Patrick and Angie, particularly in Moonlight Mile; it's part of what makes Patrick a poor fit for the big-shot security agency he's been doing investigations for, as it requires him to work for Corrupt Corporate Executive types that he finds repulsive.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Moonlight Mile Amanda's No. 19 Red Sox Jersey proves to be this, since it's the jersey of player Josh Beckett and the town where Amanda was taken in the Berkshires during her first disappearance is called Becket, where Patrick and Angie eventually find her the second time.
    • The "one-shot", essentially a miniature bomb packed with a bullet, that Patrick takes to his confrontation with Gerry Glynn in Darkness, Take My Hand, which ends up saving his life and allowing the police to shoot Gerry.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Angie’s grandfather, a Mafia boss and associate of The Don of Boston, "Fat Freddy" Constantine, in the second book. Angie uses her connections with him to capture and interrogate the mob flunkies who know the killer’s identity.
  • Chekhov's Skill: One of the FBI agents in the second book briefly mentions that he's a literary buff. Because of this, he's able to recognize all of the subtle references to Othello in the killer's notes. This saves Patrick's life in his final confrontation with the killer. It turns out that "Iago" is a codeword that signals his dog to attack.
  • Continuity Nod: Recur throughout the series, although Moonlight Mile is the only book that could really be considered a straight-up sequel (to Gone Baby Gone, in this case).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Trevor Stone in the third book.
  • Crapsack World: With its heavy levels of crime, poverty, racism, and corruption, Dorchester definitely qualifies. This is often overlooked because the residents have so much local pride.
  • Crossover: The short story "Red Eye," co-written by Lehane & Michael Connelly and featured in the anthology FaceOff, matches up Patrick with Harry Bosch.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Patrick, big-time, normally to pretty terrifying people.
  • Demoted to Extra: Bubba Rogowski in The Movie of Gone Baby Gone.
  • Deus ex Machina: Patrick's lawyer, Cheswick Hartman, often functions as this. He only shows up when Patrick gets himself into legal trouble, and he always gets him off scot-free.
  • Diminishing Villain Threat: The Irish Mob in Darkness, Take My Hand, over the course of the novel. At the beginning, they are, collectively, The Dreaded, but they take a back seat to the serial killer Big Bad by the third act, and after their obstruction of the case leads to Angie being non-fatally shot, the Mafia gives them the old You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
  • The Ditz: Helene McCready is a non-comedic example in Gone Baby Gone, as the stupidity and thoughtlessness that might be funny under other circumstances are actually very hazardous traits for the mother of a young child, especially in a bad neighbourhood. It's only her brother who stops her from doing serious harm to Amanda.
    • However, by the time of Moonlight Mile she's moved into a more typical example of this trope, because the older Amanda is now highly intelligent and independent, and all the damage Helene could do has already been done. An example of this is when she sees Amanda's baby, which by this point everyone (including her) knows is adopted rather than a blood relation, she immediately says the baby has her eyes. When her boyfriend Kenny incredulously asks her how it is that she's "allowed to vote and operate machinery", we get this gem:
    "Cuz," Helene said proudly, "this is America." Kenny closed and opened his eyes.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Calling Patrick "Pat" is a good way to get on his bad side.
  • Domestic Abuse: Phil, Angie's ex-husband. The first book opens with Angie sporting a black eye, and Patrick relates a previous incident where Angie told him to "be reasonable" after she showed up covered in bruises, and Patrick's response was to reasonably beat the hell out of Phil with a pool cue. This was not the first time this happened and Patrick seriously considers doing it again. Once Phil and Angie divorce Phil is seriously regretful of his behavior but Patrick never really forgives him for it, and by the time the two old friends start to patch things up Phil is killed by Gerry Glynn.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The end of Moonlight Mile has Patrick decide to quit the PI business and go back to school after he decides he's more than earned it with all they've been through. The final scene of the series is him and Angie entering their home together, Patrick content with the state of his life.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Ruprecht "Bubba" Rogowski.
  • Ephebophile: In Moonlight Mile, Patrick accuses Dre of being this towards Amanda, who's 16 so it's not illegal per se under Mass lawnote , but still questionable since he's at least twice her age. Dre doesn't exactly deny it either, and it's later implied that Amanda knew he wanted to get into her pants and used this to manipulate him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Boston's Irish Mafia plays host to some vicious, sadistic people. But even they're repulsed by the serial killer in the second book, refusing to believe that such a person could have grown up in "the neighborhood".
    • After one of the Mooks in Moonlight Mile decides to quit the life to sell insurance for his uncle, The Mafiya expresses disgust with the career choice.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Most of the main cast, including Patrick, Angie, Phil, Bubba, and many of the psychos/mobsters that they have to deal with. Justified, since Dorchester is an exceptionally close-knit neighborhood.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: One has developed in the Dorchester underworld between Darkness, Take My Hand and Gone Baby Gone; Cheese Olamon has been doing his best to fill it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: "Fat Freddy" Constantine, who drops the facade the second Patrick makes a wiseass remark.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Church of Truth and Revelation, from the third book, is a not-so-subtle counterpart to the Church of Scientology.
  • For the Evulz: The serial killer's manifesto in Darkness, Take My Hand reveals this, in so many words, as his primary motivation.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Bubba, who can always be trusted to find the necessary ordinance to help with any situation, and used to be a Marine.
  • Gayngst: In Darkness, Take My Hand , Eric Gault, a former professor of Patrick's, turns out to have been having an affair with Jason Warren, the son of Patrick and Angie's client; he didn't divulge this even after Jason is murdered because he knows that a same-sex professor-student relationship, even involving adults, would provoke an All Gays Are Pedophiles-type reaction from parents and would likely cost him his job.
  • Grand Finale: Moonlight Mile.
  • Hard Boiled Detective: Patrick Kenzie is a refreshing subversion. He has a fairly Dark and Troubled Past, and he encounters plenty of horror in his job. But in spite of it all, he remains an easily relatable everyman with plenty of stable relationships, and he often uses humor to focus on what's important. He has a right to be angsty, but he rarely wears his angst on his sleeve.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Phil Dimassi gets a big one. He's introduced in the first book as Angie's abusive, alcoholic husband who Patrick just refers to as "the asshole". In the second book, we learn that he was once Patrick's best friend, and that most of the animosity between them stems from Patrick's jealousy over him marrying Angie. After he and Angie get a divorce and he quits drinking, he and Patrick begin to reconnect.
  • Heroic BSoD: Patrick, after he fails to stop Gerry Glynn from killing Phil; he's snapped out of it when Gerry takes a mother and infant hostage. By the time the book ends, he's settled into a more muted, long-term version thanks to the horrors they've experienced.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Devin Amronklin and Oscar Lee, Patrick's contacts in the Boston Police Department.
  • Human Popsicle: It's revealed in Sacred that Trevor Stone hopes to use a cryogenic chamber to stave off his cancer until there's a cure for it. While Patrick thinks that such an idea is ridiculous, he finds out that Trevor's inner circle is plotting against him because they're just that unwilling to risk him living any longer.
    Griffin: Don't laugh. He's crazy. He's not to be taken lightly, though. I don't believe in cryogenics. But what if I'm wrong and he's right, Mr. Kenzie? He'll dance on our graves.
  • Information Broker: Devin the cop and Richie the journalist both often serve this purpose for Patrick.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Inverted with Patrick and his girlfriend Grace; she leaves him when she realizes the danger his work potentially puts her and her daughter in.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The result of Dre getting hit by the incoming Acela trainnote  in Moonlight Mile, to the point that it takes Patrick a few minutes to understand exactly what he's seeing splashed all over the other cars.
  • Memetic Badass: Patrick is an in-universe example. After he single-handedly takes down Gerry Glynn, he becomes something of a local legend around Dorchester, and there are several True Crime novels published about his exploits.
  • I Just Write the Thing: Lehane explains the 11 year gap between Prayers for Rain and Moonlight Mile as being because Patrick Kenzie wouldn't talk to him.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Richie Colgan, who usually assists Patrick by giving evidence to the press and digging up information.
  • It Gets Easier: Averted- Patrick commits two murders over the course of the series, Marion Socia, a psychotic gang leader who pimped out his own son and Corwin Earle, a pedophile and murderer of children. Despite the two characters being grade-A Asshole Victims and Patrick killing them years apart, he's racked with guilt both times.
  • Kirk Summation: Patrick to Gerry in Darkness, Take My Hand when Gerry attempts to make his murders seem grandiose; Patrick steadfastly refuses to give him the satisfaction of being horrified by him, and simply tells him that he'll completely vanish from the news cycle when something more sordid grabs their attention.
  • The Lad-ette: Angie
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Dr. Dawe in Prayers for Rain believes himself to be the victim of this; when his daughter was born with a heart condition that was at the time considered a death sentence, he switched the newborn with that of a woman who had died in childbirth; when the healthy girl the Dawes took was just a little girl, she fell through a frozen lake and drowned, while their biological daughter ended up adopted and living a perfectly normal life.
  • Love Triangle: Patrick, Angie and Phil were in one for the longest time, since Angie actually lost her virginity to Patrick, panicked, and then ran to Phil. It takes them many years to settle it and then Phil ends up dying.
  • Mafia Princess: Subverted; Angie is the granddaughter of Delaware mobster Vincent Patriso, but she is estranged from him and only ever calls upon her connections to him twice during the series, both times as a last resort.
  • Macguffin: Senator Paulson's photos in the first book.
  • Morality Pet: Patrick essentially serves this role for Bubba, who otherwise is very much ruthless and remorseless. Patrick and Angie's daughter Gabby also serves this role for him in Moonlight Mile since he's fiercely protective of her, and she adores him in turn.
  • The Movie Buff: Patrick, with a particular liking for Old Hollywood.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: How Amanda feels about Patrick's decision to return her to her mother; played with, in that Patrick didn't believe himself to be doing the exact right thing even beforehand, just the best of bad options.
  • Oh, Crap!: In Darkness, Take My Hand, when Patrick puts two and two together after realizing that 1- a serial killer is stalking him, 2- his house painter said he wouldn't be able to make it that day and 3- there's someone outside painting his house...
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: The fact that in Gone Baby Gone Patrick wound up taking down several corrupt cops has permanently put him on the BPD's shit-list.
  • Only in Florida: The section of Sacred set in Tampa has shades of this. The craziest stuff in the book happens in Florida.
  • Out of Focus: Richie Colson, a Boston Tribune reporter and Patrick's main contact in the press, plays a decently-sized role in A Drink Before The War, but mostly fades into the background afterward, not even appearing in Books 4 or 5.
  • Parental Neglect: Helene McCready, in the fourth book, is criminally neglectful of her daughter Amanda. Amanda's uncle Lionel recounts how toddler Amanda once got third degree sunburns when Helene left her outside in the sun and simply forgot about her. By the time Amanda's a teenager the girl has basically raised herself.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Patrick and Angie, in the beginning. The platonic part doesn't last.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Sterling Mulkern, the corrupt, openly racist senator in the first book.
  • Private Detective: Patrick and Angie, natch. It's actually a relatively realistic depiction—most of their cases start out as missing person cases, which PIs often handle in real life. Though it's rarely shown for obvious reasons, Patrick mentions that the bulk of his cases are pretty mundane ones involving corporate embezzlement and similar crimes. When the duo get involved in real crimes, there's always a justification for it, like a criminal having a personal connection to Patrick, a client deliberately avoiding police scrutiny, or Dorchester residents' refusal to trust the police.
  • Psycho for Hire: Kevin Hurlihy, The Dragon for The Irish Mob in Darkness, Take My Hand; Patrick describes him and his much more Punch-Clock Villain Mafia counterpart, Pine, as dangerous in two distinct ways: Pine is so disconnected from killing that he just sees it as a way to pay the bills, whereas Hurlihy enjoys it enough that he'd do it for free.
  • Psycho Sidekick: Bubba Rugowski, Patrick's friend and occasional bodyguard. He's a violent, sadistic, openly racist gun nut who lives in a warehouse surrounded by land mines. But for all of his, uh...eccentricities, he's fiercely loyal to Patrick and Angie, and will do anything to help them in their cases. In Moonlight Mile Patrick takes him along and repeatedly tells him that he can't just shoot everyone, not that Bubba listens.
  • Put on a Bus: Bubba goes to jail at the beginning of the third book, and isn't around for the rest of the story.
    • The Bus Came Back: He returns in fourth book, then in the fifth he has probably the most importance of any of the books.
    • Devin & Oscar between the fifth and sixth books; justified in that they've retired from the force in the 12 years between the two books.
    • After briefly returning in Prayers For Rain, Grace Cole reveals to Patrick that she's moving to Houston, effectively leaving his life forever.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Averted. Patrick is only forced to kill a few times in the series, and each time he feels terrible about it. So much that by the third book, he outright refuses to kill the Big Bad when he has his final confrontation with him.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Patrick experiences a moment of this in the fourth book after finding Samuel Pietro’s mutilated body.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In Darkness, Take My Hand, Patrick goes out to get the mail and finds Ax-Crazy The Dragon for The Irish Mob on his doorstep; he simply sits down, starts reading his new issue of Spin and tries to strike up a conversation with the guy on the magazine's content.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Phil in the second book. He's killed by Gerry Glynn when he tries to take revenge on him for attacking Angie.
  • Religious Horror: Lots of it in the second book. Victims of the serial killer are always found crucified, and it turns out that there are actually three killers who have modeled themselves after the Holy Trinity. There's Gerry Glynn (the Father), Alec Hardiman (the Son), and Evandro Arujo (the Holy Ghost).
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: In Moonlight Mile.
    Violeta Borzakov: Do you think I am stupid?
    Yefim: Tiny bit, yes. [Boom, Headshot!]
  • The Rival: Jay Becker.
  • Sadistic Choice: Mafioso Stevie the Pick in Prayers for Rain derives his name from his fondness for giving his victims two options for how they die.
  • Scars Are Forever: Patrick has a hideous scar on his stomach from when his abusive father burned him with an iron. In the second book, he also gets a scar on his face from Gerry Glynn slashing him with a knife, prompting him to grow a beard to cover it. In the same book, Angie gets a scar on her stomach from getting shot.
  • Sequel Gap: 11 years between Prayers for Rain and Moonlight Mile. Lehane explains this as being the result of Patrick not talking to him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title of the first book is a reference to a famous episode of Fawlty Towers, when Basil Fawlty tries to avoid mentioning "the war" while catering to a group of German guests. He slips up and accidentally offers them "A drink before the war" instead of "A drink before lunch".
    • In the third book, Patrick briefly uses the alias "DeForest Doohan" after getting into an argument with Angie over why he doesn't like Star Trek.
    • Also in the third book, Patrick snarkily names one of Trevor Stone's bodyguards "Lurch", after the butler from The Addams Family.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Averted. Angie may be the love of Patrick's life, but she's far from his only love interest. Aside from various lovers, he has a stable, happy relationship with a single mother in the second book, which ends when his involvement in the Gerry Glynn case puts her daughter in danger.
    • Second Love: The two of them zig-zag this trope, since they were technically each other's first loves, but Patrick is Angie's second husband after she divorces Phil (who technically was her second love) and then even more so after Phil's death, which quashed any chance of him and Angie getting back together again.
  • The Starscream: Yefim in Moonlight Mile puts a bullet in his boss at the end of the book, and even better, Amanda gave him the idea.
  • Start of Darkness: Gerry Glynn's young son died of a brain aneurysm, which made Gerry snap, blame it on his wife for some reason and kill her.
  • Taking the Bullet: Patrick does, non-fatally, for Angie in the climax of the fifth book.
  • Teen Pregnancy: In Moonlight Mile when they finally find the now 16 year old Amanda she has a baby with her, and though she claims that the baby is hers and that she gave birth to her Patrick doesn't buy it. It turns out that the baby is actually her friend Sophie's, who actually does qualify for this trope since she's the same age.
  • Terrible Trio: In the second book, it turns out that there are actually three serial killers: Gerry Glynn, Alec Hardiman, and Evandro Arujo.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the first book, after several years of offscreen Domestic Abuse, Angie takes a taser to her husband Phil in the front yard.
  • Those Two Guys: Devin and Oscar again.
  • Title Drop: In A Drink Before the War, Darkness, Take My Hand and Gone Baby Gone.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: Moonlight Mile ends with both Patrick and Angie permanently retired from the PI business and deciding to pursue new careers, essentially putting a kibosh on any follow-ups.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The series is essentially a very long one for Patrick and Angie, and at the end of Moonlight Mile Patrick quits the business for good, even tossing his gun in the Charles River, and decides to go back to school.
    • In the same book, Beatrice McReady is revealed to have gone through this after the events of Gone Baby Gone, since in addition to the events of that book, which left her husband imprisoned, she also lost her son in an auto accident and was cut off from contacting Amanda, who then goes missing again.
    • Putting his victims through these via manipulation is the MO of the Big Bad of Prayers for Rain.
  • Truth in Television: Many of the series's depictions of domestic abuse are inspired by Lehane's time spent working with abused children.
  • Tuckerization: Several characters are based on real people, including Angie, which is the name of Lehane's real life wife, and Bubba, who is based on a childhood friend of Lehane's who is apparently a bit of a nut but nowhere near the fictional Bubba's level.
  • The Unseen:
    • Both Patrick's sister Erin and Angie's sister/Patrick's ex-wife Renee are occasionally mentioned, but neither ever show up in person.
    • Angie's grandfather Vincent Patriso, a high-ranking figure in the Delaware mafia; Angie invokes her connections to him in the 2nd and 5th books to get her and Patrick out of trouble, but he never appears in the series.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Trevor Stone in Sacred is definitely a bastard, but when it's revealed what a Manipulative Bitch his daughter is, a great deal of what we've been told about him becomes ambiguous.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: A brief aside when Patrick investigates the carjacking-cum-murder of a woman he knows; the thief's social worker explains to Patrick that he was a promising kid working his way through college, but when he was given a huge pay cut he had to double his hours and ended up addicted to meth just to stay awake for both work and school.
  • Vigilante Militia: The second book, Darkness Take My Hand, features a neighborhood vigilante group, EEPA (The Edward Everett Protection Association) who were present in the Backstory. The seven EEPA members spent about six months in the seventies beating up hubcap thieves and giving the stink eye to any black or Hispanic people who came into their neighborhood. Then, they stumbled across a pair of serial killers preying on children. They tortured one to death with a blowtorch and framed the other one for his murder. Four of them enjoyed doing so and became permanently emboldened and sadistic afterward (with one becoming a crime boss), one committed suicide, one became an alcoholic, and the seventh was institutionalized. Decades later, the Evil Mentor of the two killers targets several of their children.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Marion Socia is in the thick of one by the end of A Drink Before the War.
    • Kirill Borzakov in Moonlight Mile has been having a coke-and-vodka-fueled one for a while on top of being Ax-Crazy from the beginning; it's the main reason his compatriots give Yefim permission to kill him.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Trevor Stone in the third book.
  • Villains Want Mercy: The fifth book’s Big Bad, Scott Pearse, goes out begging for his life before Bubba shoots his brains out.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Stevie the Pick and Roland- both of whom are Karma Houdinis- promise Patrick that they'll kill him eventually, the former as soon as Angie's grandfather has died, and yet in Moonlight Mile over a decade has passed since both threats, apparently without incident.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Patrick, first with Phil and then with Cody Falk; he gives the latter a full-on "The Reason You Suck" Speech about men who victimize women.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Patrick and Angie in the beginning, until they hook up in the second book and officially get together in the third. It's then double subverted when Angie moves out at the end of Gone Baby Gone, but in the next book they get back together for good and have a daughter by the sixth.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The now 16 Amanda McCready to an extent that Patrick finds both admirable and kind of disturbing. He notes that you'd have to become this with a mother like Helene.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Patrick told his abusive father, on the latter's deathbed, that he hated him; his response was "Attaboy", which has left Patrick pretty shaken up, understandably.