While you might know Dennis Lehane for Shutter Island, he’s written a host of other great books that are well worth reading.
The proof is there, after all, since five of Dennis Lehane’s books have been adapted into films! (Directed by Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Ben Affleck, no less.)
Hailing from Boston, Dennis Lehane has been writing books for almost two decades. He’s written two popular book series and a handful of acclaimed standalone novels.
So he’s a prolific author. He’s written over a dozen novels so far and has even won several awards for his books – including some of the adaptations that were based on his books.
You might have read one or two of Dennis Lehane’s novels, or maybe none at all. Either way, you’ll definitely want to read them in order, especially since some of his most popular books are part of a series.
Don’t fret, though, as below you’ll find out how to read Dennis Lehane’s book series in the correct order.
About The Kenzie & Gennaro And Coughlin Series
Dennis Lehane has written two book series: the Kenzie & Gennaro series and the Coughlin series.
The Kenzie & Gennaros is the series Dennis Lehane started writing first, which began with A Drink Before the War, Lehane’s debut novel, published in 1994.
The Kenzie & Gennaro series follows detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro as they tackle various cases in Boston – where Lehane himself was born.
There are six books in the series, the most recent being Moonlight Mile, published in 2010.
Dennis Lehane is also known for his Coughlin series, which he started with The Given Day in 2008. The most recent book he wrote for the Coughlin series is World Gone By, published in 2015.
Alongside his two book series, Lehane has released various standalone novels. The most popular of these include Mystic River and Shutter Island, both of which were adapted into movies.
Kenzie & Gennaro Books In Order
A Drink Before The War
A Drink Before the War was published in 1994. It was Dennis Lehane’s debut novel, which introduced the two main characters, private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. It’s a crime fiction novel with mystery and suspense.
- A must-read for crime, thriller, and mystery book lovers
- Widely considered the best book in the series
- As Lehane’s first novel, it’s not as well written as his other books
Darkness, Take My Hand
Darkness, Take My Hand is the second novel in the Kenzie & Gennaro series, which was published in 1996, two years after the first book. It begins a new case, this time involving an Irish gang and a string of murders.
- Sees main characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro take on a new case
- Considered one of the best books in the Kenzie & Gennaro series
- It’s not as suspenseful or exciting as the series’ first book
Sacred, published in 1997, is the third book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series.
Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are back investigating another case, this time for Trevor Stone – a dying billionaire who wants to find his missing daughter.
- Contains more humor than the first and second books while keeping the series’ neo-noir mood
- Has several unexpected twists and turns
- It’s considered one of the weakest books in the Kenzie & Gennaro series
Gone, Baby, Gone
Gone, Baby, Gone is the fourth book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series, released one after the third book in 1998.
It’s the only book in the series to be adapted into a movie, which came out in 2007, directed by Ben Affleck.
- Considered the second best book in the series, after A Drink Before the War
- Gone, Baby, Gone was adapted into a 2007 movie, directed by Ben Affleck, to critical acclaim
- Those who have watched the film will already know the general plot of the book
Prayers For Rain
Prayers for Rain came out in 1999 – the fifth book published in the Kenzie & Gennaro series.
It follows a high-stakes plot involving a sociopath who’s always one step ahead of the detective duo, setting the scene for their biggest challenge yet.
- One of the more fast-paced books in the series
- Weaves a strong mystery that will grip you from the first page
- Considered one of the weakest books in the Kenzie & Gennaro series
Moonlight Mile is the fourth and latest book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series, published in 2010.
This time, private investigators Kennie and Gennaro are called to help out with a missing woman investigation – a woman who also mysteriously disappeared as a child.
- Contains a riveting mystery with unexpected twists
- A must-read for fans of “missing person” books
- Considered the weakest book in the series
Coughlin Books In Order
The Given Day
The Given Day, published in 2008, is the first novel in Dennis Lehane’s Coughlin book series, which follows main characters Aiden “Danny” Coughlin and Luther Laurence in a plot filled with crime, politics, and corruption.
- Considered the best book in Lehane’s Coughlin series
- Features a thrilling plot with two relatable main characters
- The various plotlines might be confusing for some readers
Live By Night
Live by Night, released in 2012, is the second book in the Coughlin series, which introduces Joe Coughlin.
It was made into a movie of the same name in 2016, directed by and starring Ben Affleck in the main role of Joe Coughlin.
- Introduces Joe Coughlin for the first time
- Live by Night was adapted into a movie starring Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldaná
- Not considered as good as the first book in the series, The Given Day
World Gone By
World Gone By was published in 2015, the third book in the Coughlin series. It centers on Joe Coughlin once again, taking place 10 years after the first novel, this time working for a large crime family.
- Readers who love gang stories will enjoy World Gone By
- Continues the story of Joe Coughlin, who was introduced in the series’ second book
- Considered the weakest book in the Coughlin series
Dennis Lehane Standalone Books In Order
Mystic River, published in 2001, is the first standalone novel written by Dennis Lehane.
It’s one of his most popular and well-received books, second to Shutter Island, and was made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name in 2003.
- One of Dennis Lehane’s best books
- Mystic River was made into a critically acclaimed 2003 movie, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn
- Those who have watched the movie will already know the general plot of the book
Shutter Island was published in 2003 and is considered Dennis Lehane’s best book. It follows a U.S. Marshal investigating a missing patient at a psychiatric hospital on the titular Shutter Island.
- Widely considered Dennis Lehane’s best novel
- Shutter Island was adapted into a critically acclaimed blockbuster movie, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Dicaprio
- Those who have watched the movie will already know the general plot (and twist) of the book
Coronado: Stories is the third standalone book written by Dennis Lehane, and published in 2006.
It’s a collection of five short stories and a play: Running Out of Dog, ICU, Gone Down to Corpus, Mushrooms, and Until Gwen.
- Coronado: Stories is an easier read for those who prefer short stories
- Each story contains similar themes found in Lehane’s novels
- The short stories are not as exciting as Lehane’s novels
The Drop was released in 2014 – the fourth standalone book by Dennis Lehane.
It’s another book of Dehane’s that was adapted into a movie, released in the same year the book came out with Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in the lead roles.
- Considered one of Dennis Lehane’s best novels
- The Drop was adapted into an acclaimed movie starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace
- New readers might find the plot of The Drop confusing to keep up with
Since We Fell
Since We Fell is the most recent book written by Dennis Lehane, published in 2017.
Unlike his other novels, Since We Fell contains more psychological elements, following the main character Rachel Childs as she deals with agoraphobia and a mystery involving her father.
- One of Dennis Lehane’s most popular books
- Deals with new themes not touched on Lehane’s previous books, such as paranoia and isolation
- Readers who prefer Lehane’s crime fiction novels might not enjoy Since We Fell as much
And there you have it: how to read all of Dennis Lehane’s books in order, including his Kenzie & Gennaro series, Coughlin books series, and standalone novels.
Thankfully, reading his books in order is simple enough, as all you have to do is read them in the order of release date!
If you want to read his books in order of popularity, however, then you’ll want to start with either Shutter Island, Mystic River, A Drink Before the War (the first book in Lehane’s Kenzie & Gennaro series), or Gone, Baby, Gone.
But whichever order you choose to read Dennis Lehane’s books in, the best thing is that you can spoil yourself to the movie adaptations after, which include Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, The Drop, and Live by Night.
And if you plow through all of Dennis Lehane’s books and find yourself wanting to read more, he also wrote a short story called Animal Rescue, published in 2009.
So now that you know how to read Dennis Lehane’s books in order, get reading!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Dennis Lehane Books Were Made Into Movies?
Four of Dennis Lehane’s books have been adapted into movies, including Mystic River in 2003, Gone Baby Gone in 2007, Shutter Island in 2010, and Live by Night in 2016.
What Should I Read If I Like Dennis Lehane?
If you enjoy books by Dennis Lehane, then you’ll also enjoy authors such as James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, David Baldacci, and Howard Blum.
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