Coughlin Books

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The “Coughlin” series by Dennis Lehane is a crime fiction trilogy that features members of the Coughlin family. The series is loosely connected. Two are cops, but one is a criminal, having climbed pretty high in the crime family. The novels take place over several decades of time, starting in 1918 (in the first novel) and ending up around the time of World War 2 (in the third novel).

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Order of Coughlin Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Given Day ( By: Dennis Lehane) 2008 Description / Buy
2 Live by Night ( By: Dennis Lehane) 2012 Description / Buy
3 World Gone By ( By: Dennis Lehane) 2015 Description / Buy
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The author, Dennis Lehane, was born in the Dorcester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts which clearly influenced a lot of his writing and this book series especially. Many of Lehane’s novels have been adapted into films including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island. He has also written some original screenplays that have been made into movies, namely “The Drop” starring Tom Hardy.

The Coughlin series is very special to Lehane as he has described the period of writing “The Given Day” as being a five-to-six year project. Lehane considered the story to be his “great white whale” project that he was finally able to tackle and has since returned to it multiple times.

In the first book, Aiden “Danny” Coughlin is a beat cop in Boston in the decade of the twenties. Thomas is his father and is a Boston Police captain. A recurring character in the novel, is famous baseball player Babe Ruth; as are some other prominent figures from history. He reflects on the cheating he and his teammates do in a pick up baseball game that he takes part in against some African Americans that he plays in while they are in Ohio. Lehane described working on the novel as a big project that would take him five or six years. He figured that he would take a break from it to write about Angie and Patrick or write a sequel to this first book.


The second novel, “Live By Night” won an Edgar Award for novel of the year in 2013.


In 2016, an adaptation of the second novel in the series, “Live By Night” was released. It was written, produced, and directed by Ben Affleck; he also starred in the role of Joe Coughlin. Leonardo diCaprio was also a producer on the film. The film received mixed reviews upon coming out and was a box office failure, not recouping it’s budget at the box office.


For those looking to get into the “Coughlin” series by Dennis Lehane, this section will help with that. It will go over the novels “The Given Day” and “Live By Night”.

The Given Day: This is the first novel in the “Coughlin” series and was released in the year 2008. This novel is set in Boston at the end of the Great War. It is the story of one black family and another that is white. These families are swept up in revolutionaries and ward bosses, and anarchists, immigrants, Brahmins, and ordinary citizens. All involved are trying to survive and get some power.

A beat cop named Danny Coughlin (son of a powerful and beloved police captain in the city) gets into the hunt for some violent radicals. He also joins the new union movement at a time when the cops have not gotten a raise in over ten years and make poverty level wages. Luther Laurence has been on the run since a confrontation with a Tulsa crime boss that ended in death. Now he works for the Coughlins and tries to get home to his wife, who is pregnant. There are some famous figures in history involved in this story too. It is brought to a head, after the Spanish influenza, with the Boston Police Strike that happened in the year 1919.

The book also drew notice for a side storyline involving the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth. He appears at various times throughout the novel with his first appearance being in the prologue.

Live By Night: This is the second novel in the “Coughlin” series and was released in the year 2012. This novel is set in Boston in 1926. The roarin’ twenties, and boy are they roarin’. Booze is still flowing pretty well, and bullets are whizzing around everywhere. There is one man who wants to leave his mark on everything. Because of prohibition, there is a huge network of gangsters, cops on the take, speakeasies, and distilleries. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of the Boston police captain, turned his back on the proper upbringing he got a long time ago. He has gone from being a petty thief to a life of pay among the fearsome mobsters in the town. He enjoys the spoils that comes with being an outlaw in the town. This life he leads has a big price tag. No one, no one at all (friend, foe, family, enemy, or lover), can be trusted. Most are determined, even with the threat of jail or death always with them, to live life as big as they can at all times.

World Gone By: This book takes Joe Coughlin to Ybor City, Florida where he needs to deal with his criminal past and present. He’s working as a consigliore between the Bartolo crime family and their interests in Cuba. Taking place during World War II, this book expertly tells the story of the rise of the mafia during this time while also telling a great story about Joe Coughlin’s dealings with his dark past.


“Gray Man” series is the one that Mark Greaney is well known for. It is a thriller series about an ex CIA operative known as Court Gentry (or the Gray Man). There are eight books in this series to date

The “Jack Swyteck” series by James Grippando stars Jack Swyteck, who was first introduced in 1994 with “The Pardon”. Swyteck is a criminal defense lawyer based in Miami. Grippando worked as a lawyer, which gave him the background to write the series. He even wrote some of these novels while still practicing law.

What Is The Next Book in The Coughlin Series?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Coughlin Series. The newest book is World Gone By and was released on January, 1st 2015.

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