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Synopsis: Bestselling author Dennis Lehane is back with a vengeance in this noir mystery with a psychological edge. Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro's relationship has hit the skids. But despite their problems, they join forces to close down a predator whose modus operandi seems to put him beyond the law. This killer's insidious murder weapon is within his victim's mind: no smoking gun, no bloody knife, just merciless manipulation that drives his targets to kill themselves. As Patrick and Angie attempt to identify and save his next victim, this sinister force turns on them, and thus begins a dangerous battle of wits: a tormenting, life-threatening game of psychological warfare where simple survival seems like a mixed blessing - because not even the winner will emerge unscathed.

Review: Prayers for Rain is Dennis Lehane's fifth installment in his intricately plotted, beautifully written, and much underacknowledged Boston mystery series. Lehane's books reflect our morally complex times, when the borders between right and wrong are somewhat blurry.

Private investigator Patrick Kenzie is in the middle of a personal crisis--he's lost his passion for the profession, and is tired of people with their "predictable vices, their predictable needs and wants and dormant desires." Angie Gennaro, his occasional sweetheart, lifelong friend, and fellow investigator has quit the business. She's still deeply resentful about Patrick's handling of the Amanda McCready case, the focus of Gone, Baby, Gone. Without Angie, private investigating has lost its fizz.

The suicide of a former client, Karen Nichols, gives Kenzie his investigative itch back. Six months earlier, Kenzie tracked down a stalker who had been harassing Nichols, and put an end to his heinous hobby. But Nichols needed more help than this PI could ever have imagined. "She'd been drowning, and I'd been busy." The successful, middle-class young woman had been sinking into a sea of drugs, alcohol, and prostitution, hitting the bottom when she jumped from the Boston Custom House. Her death consumes Kenzie--he is convinced that someone pulled her into the vortex, although her nearest and dearest simply call her weak.

Kenzie teams up with his explosive, loving, gun-toting friend Bubba Rogowski, and, after a boozy reunion, Angie Gennaro joins them. This fearless threesome must surely be the most original team in contemporary crime fiction. Good at the core--but seriously screwed up by various demons from their pasts--tact and decorum is hardly their style. They work their way across Boston, doing whatever it takes to question Nichols's family and acquaintances. By unveiling the real Nichols, tragic family secrets, betrayals, and conspiracies are also unmasked.

If you haven't experienced Dennis Lehane's world before, be prepared for an invigorating new reading experience. --Naomi Gesinger

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Dennis Lehane
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