Long before Dennis Lehane looked at crime's affect on a neighborhood in the gripping "Mystic River," ventured to the chilling "Shutter Island" or went back in time with the historical "The Given Day," he made his career writing about Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.

Through five novels, Patrick and Angie worked Boston's mean streets, up against some of the worst criminals.

They were last seen in "Prayers for Rain" (1999) as Lehane moved on to other stories. Now, Lehane has brought them back for a story that echoes "Gone Baby Gone" (1998), one of their most gripping and messiest cases.

"Moonlight Mile" also continues themes at the heart of the gripping "Gone Baby Gone" - the vagaries of parenting and the moral conundrum of what's legal vs. right.

As the characters ponder more than a decade of hindsight, "Moonlight Mile" also is a novel about consequences, the burdens people carry and what happens when one's conscience is faced with a mountain of bills.

"Moonlight Mile" is a quieter outing than Lehane's previous novels in this series, but no less gripping. Lehane delivers an emotional story that connects with the characters' capacity to grow.

His reccurring themes of moral ambiguity and the loss of innocence receive a thorough workout. It is a worthy return for Lehane's iconic characters.

'Moonlight Mile'

By Dennis Lehane


(320 pages, $26.99)