In World Gone By, former crime boss Joe Coughlin finds his niche as a business whiz and consigliere to a crime family in 1940’s Tampa shaken to the core when he learns of a plot to murder him. Having already borne the loss of his wife a decade ago, Joe wants only to hold onto what he has: a comfortable life in Ybor City with his son, Tomas and regular trysts with his mistress. It makes no sense for anybody to kill him, since Joe is the goose that lays the golden eggs for the mob. But the ghosts and skeletons of Joe’s former life pursue him, even as he tries to elude a fate he knows he may deserve.
This is Lehane’s take on the Godfather saga. Like Michael Corleone, Joe Coughlin is thrust into a life of crime and comes to embrace it, only to find it a ravenous beast that must be endlessly fed. Joe struggles harder than Michael did to find his own morality, navigating a world he sees in shades of gray, where those around him see black and white. Employing several subtle devices to foreshadow Joe’s fate, Lehane produces a brilliant and haunting finale that has stayed with me since I put down the book.
I hope Clint or Ben gets the film rights to this one.