The year is 1919 in Boston, Massachusetts. This is a saga of two families caught in the maelstrom of the
period. There are the Coughlins, a lace curtain Irish family headed by a proud and powerful police captain.
His son, Danny, a patrolman, goes undercover to infiltrate the Bolsheviks and anarchists who are recruiting the
city's poverty-stricken immigrants. He finds himself sympathetic to the immigrants' lives, as their living
conditions are all too similar to those of his fellow policemen. Danny falls in love against social mores with
Nora, the Irish immigrant maid who has a secret past. His love is complicated by the fact that his brother,
Connor, is also is love with Nora.
The other family is that of Luther Lawrence, a talented black ballplayer who has fled to Boston after killing
a drug lord in Tulsa. Here he becomes entwined with Danny's family, but has to fight discrimination and racial
prejudice and the racist cop who is out to destroy him.
The Given Day is a definite departure from Lehane's usual mystery novels. This is a historic epic,
bringing to life a turbulent period in the history of the United States. It is a tale of tragedy, hope, betrayal,
love and the conflicts of human nature.
There is a panorama of social tensions, immigration, political corruption, anarchy and, yes, love and jealousy
and personal greed. In addition to the well defined characters of Danny and the Coughlin family and their friends,
along with the Lawrence family, there are glimpses of historic personalities: Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, Emma
Goldman, Eugene O'Neill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and others.
The research involved is extensive. The writing is excellent with a cast of true-to-life characters. The
devastation of the Police Strike is described with precision. The struggle of the working class trying to find
decent working conditions and a fair wage is brought to life. Lehane touches on the Volstead Act, which
inaugurated Prohibition; on the devastation of the Spanish influenza, which was still raging; on the Black Sox
baseball scandal in the World Series; and on many other defining events.
This is a 700-page work of historical fiction which will fascinate and inform the reader. It is not just an
engrossing story but also a lesson in history. You won't want to put the book down once you start the first