Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane Headshot

Writer • Producer

Birth Date: August 4, 1965

Age: 58 years old

Birth Place: Dorchester, Massachusetts

Boston novelist Dennis Lehane imbued his modern-day detective novels like Gone, Baby, Gone (1998) and Mystic River (2001), and his historical fiction Live By Night (2012), with gritty action, a strong sense of place and a complex moral outlook, which won him legions of fans and served as the basis for several successful films.

Born in the South Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts on August 4, 1965, he was the youngest of five children by working-class parents. During his formative years, the city was a hotbed of racial and class conflict, which would inform the landscape and characters in his fiction; he was also keenly aware of moral corruption among the Jesuit teachers at Boston College High School, which would play a significant part in such novels as Gone, Baby, Gone (1998) and Mystic River (2001).

Lehane began work on his first novel as a student at Eckhard College, and completed the book after graduation. A Drink Before the War introduced readers to the Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, who would serve as protagonists in five subsequent novels between 1996 and 2010. After completing Drink, which won the 1995 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. novel, Lehane wrote, produced and directed an independent film titled "Neighborhoods," which went uncompleted; he then returned to the Kenzie-Gennaro stories with Darkness, Take My Hand in 1996.

Though critically praised, his gritty, neo-noir tales were modest sellers until President Bill Clinton was photographed with a copy of Lehane's 1999 novel, Prayers for Rain. The exposure led to increased sales, which spiked anew when Clint Eastwood optioned his 2001 novel Mystic River to direct as a feature film. The success of the book, which won several literary awards, was compounded by the box office and critical victory of the film, which received six Oscar nominations and won two for actors Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.

Lehane soon joined the writing staff of the critically acclaimed crime series "The Wire" (HBO, 2002-08), for which he penned three episodes; he also continued to generate new crime novels, including the Gothic-tinged Shutter Island (2003), which was made into a feature film by Martin Scorsese in 2009. Between these efforts, Ben Affleck directed an adaptation of Gone, Baby, Gone in 2007, while Lehane issued a historical novel, The Given Day (2008), which concerned conflict between Boston police, gangsters and union leaders at the turn of the century.

The sixth Kenzie-Gennaro novel, a sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone titled Moonlight Mile, was published in 2010, shortly before Lehane joined the writing and producing staff on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" (2010-14). He then wrote his first feature screenplay for "The Drop" (2014), which featured James Gandolfini in his final role. A pair of historical novels involving the Boston mobster Joe Coughlin - Live By Night in 2012 and World Gone By 2015 - bookended "The Drop" before Lehane joined the Netflix crime series "Bloodline" (2015- ) in 2016.

That same year, Affleck directed a film version of "Live By Night," with Lehane as executive producer; a new character, former journalist Rachel Childs, was introduced in his 2017 novel, a psychological thriller titled Since We Fell, which was immediately optioned for a film by DreamWorks.

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