19 November 2015
Gone Baby Gone Synopsis
Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone is a spine tingling thriller from start to finish. It centers around the private detectives Angie Genaro and Patrick Kenzie who have no share of fame due to previous cases. This is the reason that Lionel and Beatrice McCready are so desperate to secure their services.
Boston is gripped with the news that little Amanda McCready, the four year old niece of Lionel and Beatrice has been kidnapped. Beatrice regales Angie and Patrick with the history of neglect and borderline abuse that Amanda has suffered at the hands of her mother. The little girl is so depressed that she is severely introverted and has very little reception to outside stimuli. The best and the brightest of Boston’s police force are out in search of Amanda as are many volunteers from the neighborhood solicited by Beatrice.
This prompts Angie and Patrick to be hesitant to take the case. They do not need the money and from the looks of the McCreadys that cannot spare the money for their services. Even the commander of the elite unit dedicated to missing and exploited children, Jack Doyle tells them that they have very little money to spare. He shares a story about how his own daughter going missing and the terror he felt inspired him to create the unit. He assures them that he is sparing no expense of all available state and local police resources are being used to find Amanda.
Angie and Patrick decide to take the case after meeting Amanda’s mother, Helene. She is more interested in getting her fifteen minutes of fame rather than finding Amanda, although she does seem to be able to command tears when she needs them to convince her brother and the media. After all, someone needs to look out for Amanda’s best interest.
During the investigation more is discovered about Helene’s disgusting regard for not just her child but the severe extent of the neglect. Angie and Patrick discover that Helene was not at her best friend’s apartment next door with her own apartment door unlocked. She was actually across town at a bar that even the regular police would not enter without SWAT back up at night; a dangerous lesson they learn when Angie is almost gang raped.
Angie and Patrick are paired with Broussard and his partner, Poole. Broussard and Poole offer some foreshadowing to the events in the book. They share one of the most horrifying experiences in their career: a child found dead in an oil drum. They seem fiercely determined to find Amanda alive and safe. They have a list of criminals that was recently released from prison that they are hunting. Among the list of criminals are Leon Trett, his mountain of a wife Roberta, and a pedophile, Corwin Earle they picked up along the way. They are not just a severe danger to children they are also end of the world nuts who hoard guns.
Angie and Patrick go over the news footage repeatedly until they recognize a criminal named Mullen that works for a gangster named Cheese. He is a big time criminal but even someone like Cheese has bigger and badder criminals to fear. One of these criminals is a childhood friend of Patrick’s, known primarily as “Bubba.” In the world of criminals Bubba is the alpha Rottweiler and Cheese is the teacup Chihuahua who goes belly up once the big dog looks in his direction.
Using their not so legal means Bubba helps to get information that they so desperately need on the streets. One of these interesting items is that the skinny pock marked punk, Skinny Ray Likanski that ran out of the bar shortly before the attempted gang rape was Helene McCready’s boyfriend. The night before Amanda’s kidnapping Helene and Ray robbed Mullen of several hundred thousand dollars. They even took Amanda with them on their various drug runs including the one in which they robbed Mullen of his payment.
To add to the increasing tension of the days passing with no sightings of Amanda a little boy goes missing. Broussard and Poole are close to the breaking point and the tension is also causing trouble in Patrick and Angie’s domestic partnership.
After trailing Mullen and Pharaoh for days Bubba comes to Patrick for a favor. He wants him to come with him on a gun sell. He does not tell him who the buyers are nor does he tell him where they are going. They show at a non-descript house that has seen better days. They are let into the house and the dirty looking couple are very familiar to Patrick. Once Bubba starts counting the money and the buyer gets antsy Patrick realizes this is the place where the Tretts and Corwin have holed up. Bubba refuses to give the triggers to the Tretts until he counts his money. Tensions rise as Corwin Earle comes around the corner into the kitchen and Patrick faces off with his gun while Bubba pretends to be blissfully ignorant of the things going on around except for the times his counting was interrupted. Patrick and Bubba rush out in the midst of a standoff.
Patrick and Angie bring Broussard and Poole with them to the Tretts but will not tell them how they came by the information. Angie thinks that the curtain flickered as Poole approached the front and Broussard the back. They were warned to stay in the car but when they follow anyway, Patrick shoves Angie to the ground seconds before part of Poole is torn apart by a shotgun blast. Angie’s ankle is broken and after calling officer down on the radio Patrick is left to enter the house to back up Broussard. He exchanges gunfire with Leon and ducks in time to keep from Roberta shooting him. Roberta is then a woman unhinged as she realizes that her husband is now dead. Even though she shot him she is insane with anger and grief turning all her rage toward Patrick as if he had shot him unaided. Patrick crawls up into the attic and uses a heavy door to keep Roberta from coming in after him. He still has to deal with Corwin Earle. He and Broussard end up killing all three members of the group only to find the little boy dead in the bathroom of a sound proof S&M torture chamber.
Patrick is instantly filled with regret. The child had been dead less than an hour. If he and Bubba would have confronted them the night before when they had caught them by surprise and mostly unarmed they could have saved the little boy’s life. Broussard does not fault Patrick for what he would be considered killing in cold blood. Angie tries to get Patrick to share the horrors of the dungeon with her but the depravity is something that he does not want to infiltrate the one thing that gives him the greatest solace. He loved Angie far too much to burden her with the horrors of seeing the poor boy’s body and the morbid instruments that they had used to torture the boy. Patrick was tortured every time he closed his eyes so when Broussard calls in the middle of the night to ask him to drink with him. To use spirits to chase away the demons of the world, Patrick readily accepted.
Patrick starts to become suspicious of Broussard. Broussard is a great cop with great instincts. He is aware of Patrick’s suspicion and sets him up in a football game of cops. Patrick is almost always the target but luckily the two police officers that he is closest with warn him about how almost cowboy like Broussard and his buddies are. Patrick survives and realizes there is a guy in a suit watching the game. The man soon reveals himself as a federal agent keeping an eye on the cops like Broussard and Poole. Patrick and Angie convince Lionel to join them. He gives them the real story about what happened the night Amanda disappeared. He picked her up and waited till the coast was clear. He sent her to Broussard’s car to take her to a home where she would be safe and loved. Lionel revealed that he had seen Amanda in this new place. She was safe, loved, and now a normal little girl who had celebrated her fifth birthday with more than enough food to eat. Gone was the severely neglected girl who was so introverted she appeared almost catatonic.
Two men come in with comic style masks like Casper the Friendly ghost to rob the place. Patrick and the special agent eye them with their guns at the ready. It is fairly easy for Patrick and the agent to recognize that there is more than a little something off with the robbers. Most normal criminals would not dare cross Bubba. Patrick calls them out by name focusing mostly on Broussard. He tells him the game is up and that they are on to him. Broussard’s accomplice becomes jumpy and shoots Lionel. The agent’s chest disintegrates when he is shot and Patrick is on his way after Broussard who he realizes is bleeding.
Broussard bursts Patrick’s misogynistic bubble when he reveals that he was Angie who shot him and injured him badly. Broussard gives an edited account of everything that had occurred when they attempted to exchange the money for Amanda and how Patrick should let this case go. Amanda was alive, safe, and loved. There was no need to go hunting for her. He refused Patrick’s request to call for help. He would die to protect the children that he had helped. He tells Patrick of the infant that he found so severely malnourished and filthy that the child was stuck to the crib mattress by his own feces. His mother was out looking for drugs or hooking for money for the drugs. Broussard reveals that he knew someone who faked the medical report that said his wife did not have her hysterectomy until after the boy was born. The guy also created a legal birth certificate for the child. Broussard was still angry and disgusted that the ‘skag’ as he called her never looked for the child. He mentions that he could have killed the woman but he let her live. He dies, holding Patrick’s hand, and never reveals Amanda’s location.
Patrick and Angie are interviewed by their friends Oscar and his partner about the shoot out in the bar and Broussard’s deathly revelations. Oscar reveals that there is only one person who could have the answers they need. Jack Doyle, the head of the Crimes against Children Task Force. He has put in for early retirement and bought land out of state; far away from the prying eyes of Boston Police Department. When they stake out Doyle’s home in the country they see Amanda and Doyle’s wife. Her little laughter is music to Angie’s ear. She regrets things have come this far. They wait most of the day and listen to the girl and Doyle’s wife, whom Amanda calls “Grandma.” Once Doyle comes in, Amanda retells the story she heard that day about the bull dog being named after Jack’s uncle.
Angie begs Patrick, Oscar, and the other police officer to leave Amanda be. Just to let this one go because Amanda was much better off with the Doyle’s especially now that Lionel, once he was out of the hospital would be in prison for a long time. Beatrice was in the process of divorcing Lionel so Amanda would be abandoned to her mother’s care. Faced with his two cop buddies Patrick chooses going with the law rather than face Angie’s tear filled plea. They arrest Doyle and his wife terrifying Amanda half to death in the process.
Amanda is brought home to her mother who is not much better than when Amanda was kidnapped. When Patrick questions Helene about who will watch Amanda while she is out on her date she is told Dottie, once Helene tells her she has too. No consideration at all for Amanda who has been dropped off on her mother’s couch watching a show that was too old for her while her mother remained uncaring and ignorant of her daughter’s feelings or needs. Amanda’s acknowledgement of Patrick’s presence was a vacant empty eyed stare. The shell of the once happy little girl who thrived under the Doyle’s care. She was, as Angie predicted broken and ruined by being returned to her mother. This time with no hope of her uncle’s regular appearances to give Amanda a brief glimpse at a loving family.
Patrick was broken too. For siding with the police over what was right for Amanda, after all the times they, Angie and Patrick had skirted the law to do what was the best thing for society or the person they were working for, Angie broke up with Patrick. She moved out of their apartment and quit the detective agency.
In this roller coaster ride of thrills and heart aches at least little Nicholas Broussard will have a happy ending. Broussard’s wife is revealed to be the mysterious woman in the prologue. She skipped town with Nicholas and the money to keep him from getting taken from her as well.
Lehane, Dennis. Gone Baby Gone. New York: William Morrow, 2009. Kindle.