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World Gone By is the third novel in Dennis Lehane 's Coughlin trilogy. In 1943, ten years after the events of Live by Night, Joe Coughlin splits his energies between running the mob's legitimate businesses in Tampa, raising his son Tomas, and conducting an affair with the mayor's wife. His best friend Dion is the boss of Ybor City but seems to be losing his grip on power, and there's trouble stirring between his subordinates and Black Ybor. And someone wants to kill Joe, and he wants to find out who.


Tropes
  • Action Girl: Theresa Del Fresco. She is a hitwoman who has murdered numerous people in her past.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Montooth Dix, King Lucius.
  • Anyone Can Die: both Joe and Dion die at the end.
  • Asshole Victim: No one will miss Freddy; even his own brother thinks he's an asshole. Although not enough of one to not deserve a little revenge.
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  • Ax-Crazy- King Lucias and Freddy for certain. According to some, Dion is a little to quick to want people dead.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Lucky Luciano's release and the fear of German U-Boats were both ideas from the mind of Joe Coughlin, go figure.
  • The Cameo: Three famous gangsters Santo Trafficante, Carlos Maricello and Meyer Lansky show up for one scene at the end.
  • Cannibal Clan: King Lucias' Androphagi apparently are this, Androphagi meaning "cannibal" in Greek.
  • Car Bomb: how Montooth Dix goes out.
  • Cassandra Truth: Zigzagged. Most of the novel is Joe flip flopping between fearing for his life and thinking it's a ruse. Played straight in the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the second chapter, Joe tries getting a navy officer to get Lucky Luciano out of prison. Guess what he promises he can do to get the commission to not kill him?
    • Also Dion's fancy torta all cappucino.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Billy Kovich is mentioned in the prologue but doesn't show up much later. Doesn't live long either.
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  • Cool Uncle: While not biologically uncle, Dion treats Tomas as if he was Dion's own kid. Even builds him a BASKETBALL COURT.
  • The Consigliere: Joe is this to Dion. Some, however, see Joe as the true Boss.
  • Creepy Child: Joe has a ghost child following him throughout the novel. (This was also one of the novel's biggest criticisms).
  • Darker and Edgier: Live by Night is a dark book, World Gone By however, is a psychological story that shows how messed up the mob world is.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Joe Coughlin hasn't fully recovered from Live By Night. The past literally dogs him in the forms of the ghost child and his dreams about Graciela.
  • Dirty Old Man: While not really elder, Freddy Di Giacomo is heavily implied to be a pedophile.
  • Did Not Think This Through: See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! below
  • Disproportionate Retribution: King Lucias kills Ogden Semple because he told Joe and Rico that he had a cold.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In-universe. After Theresa Del Fresco tells Joe someone puts a hit on him, he doesn't believe her stating he makes the mob too much money to be killed. Del Fresco then names Gil Valentine. A showrunner who made the mob a lot of money and was brutally murdered.
  • Downer Ending: The Bartolo Crime Family is ruined, Tomas is traumatized by watching his father kill his uncle and then is orphaned, and Joe appears to be in a very lonely version of Hell.
  • Drugs Are Bad: While not an anti-drug book, cocaine is the reason Dion became an informant.
  • Dying Dream: Joe sees himself walking to the beach after being shot.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Montooth Dix has a three wives.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: What the gangsters like to believe about themselves.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Not many guys are named Vivian.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Subverted, Joe Coughlin got his girlfriend (and the mayor's wife) pregnant. She doesn't want to keep it.
  • Guile Hero: How Joe prefers to operate, and what makes him so valuable to the Commission.
  • Hand Cannon: Montooth packs a .44 Magnum.
  • Historical In-Joke: Aside from real life gangsters Carlos Maricello, Santo Tranfficante and Meyer Lansky showing up, Lucky Luciano's deportation and the fear of the German attacks started here.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Technically, all the gangsters are. They care about their families; they don't hurt women and children. But good intentions don't count for much when it comes to collateral damage.
  • The Hero Dies: Joe Coughlin on the penultimate page of the book.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Rico may be a double crossing bastard, but he does have point when he says Dion is slipping as boss. Even the Commission agrees.
  • Karmic Death: Rico wanted Dion dead because he was a bad boss and wanted to take over. He even got the hit sanctioned by the commission. When the commission is presented with a ledger with forged numbers to make it seem like Rico is stealing, thanks to Joe they kill him right then and there. Bonus points for that fact they strangle Rico versus just shooting him.
  • Karma Houdini: The subversion of this trope is a major theme: no matter how nice a gangster is outside the violence, no matter how ethical they try to be, it's a case of living by the sword and dying by the sword.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Live by Night, World Gone By has a lower body count and is overall the less violent story. However, this novel has a much darker tone and the violence, which is usually related through Joe's mental reviews of different characters' backstories, is arguably more disturbing (cf. Doctor Lenox, Billy Kovich).
  • Mistaken for Gay: King Lucius and Ogden Semple are rumored to be lovers, but Ogden has a prostitute named Matilda and King Lucius is seen with one later.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Joe suspects that Freddy is one, and kills him when he sees Freddy reaching for Tomas after the shootout at the bakery.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Tomas is half Irish, Half Cuban (and the Cuban half is very mixed).
    Joe: Something I loved about your mother's face was that the whole world was in it.
  • The Mole: Early in the book, everyone believes the Bartolo Family has one. It's Dion Bartolo
  • More Dakka: During the Bakery shoot-out, Thompson Machine Guns are the preferred weapon of choice.
  • Mob War: The conflict between Montooth Dix's gang and the Bartolo Family seems to head this way. Subverted since it never escalates further than one gunfight, although Dix does die.
  • Names To Run A Way From Really Fast: Saint Viv, to whom more men have prayed for their lives than Saint Anthony or the Holy Mother.
  • Not So Different: Joe Coughlin and Rico Di Giacomo, in the end. Rico's climb up the ladder echoes Joe's in Live By Night, they are more cunning than they are violent, both about to become fathers, both willing to kill Dion, either for advancement/revenge (Rico) or to protect his son (Joe), and both end up offed by the Commission.
    • Also Joe and Billy Kovich, who keeps his career as a hitman hidden from his young son and who also ends up being shot dead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Joe has to kill Dion and blow up a naval ship so the government can use the mob as spies and get Luciano out of prison in order for the mob not to kill him. They do anyways.
  • Papa Wolf: If you are going to kill someone, make sure Tomas Coughlin isn't around.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Freddy.
  • Parental Incest: Doctor Lenox killed his wife and her child when he found that the child was a product of his wife and her father's incestuous relationship. Except maybe he was wrong.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The child-ghost Joe sees throughout the story. Is it Joe's imagination? Is it his innocent past self? Is it his unborn child? Is it the son of a gangster he killed? There is no clear answer.
  • Red Herring: The hit on Joe seems like this at first. Subverted in the last pages where Joe is killed.
  • Retired Badass: Somewhat subverted. Joe Coughlin isn't quite the soldier he was, however he is still a formidable killer.
  • The Reveal: A few, the most notable ones are: that Graciela was pregnant when she died, Dion was an informant for the police, and that Rico wanted to take over.
  • Scary Black Man: Montooth Dix, leader of the Black Mob.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Billy Kovich had a brief flashback about the four day battle of Soissons. Month Dix reminisces to Joe about his time spent wading through blood in World War I.
  • Shoot Him! He Has a... Wallet: Joe shoots Billy Kovich in the throat when he reaches too quickly for his cigarette case.
  • Squick: A few moments like Lenox's backstory and the fact that after a Car Bomb Montooth Dix's nutsack is melted to a fire hydrant .
  • The Star Scream: Rico starts out as a good earner and a trusted member of the mob, but he thinks he can oust Dion. He goes so far as to get permission from the commission to stage a hit on Dion. Making it worse that JOE IS ON THE COMMISSION.
  • The Unseen: Lucky Luciano. Danny Coughlin is only mentioned once and not by name.
  • Those Two Guys: Dion and Joe.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Tomas.
  • Villain Protagonist: Joe may have gone legitimate but he is still very much a criminal and a killer.
  • You Remind Me of X: Joe often tells Tomas that he reminds Joe of his mother, Graciela.
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