Dennis Lehane
Lehane in 2010
Lehane in 2010
Born (1965-08-04) August 4, 1965 (age 58)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, screenwriter
Alma materEckerd College
Florida International University
GenreCrime fiction, mystery fiction
SpouseChisa Lehane

Dennis Lehane (born August 4, 1965)[1] is an American author. He has published more than a dozen novels; the first several were a series of mysteries featuring recurring characters, including A Drink Before the War. Four of his novels have been adapted into films of the same names: Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (2003), Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010), and Gone Baby Gone (2007) and Live by Night (2016), both directed by Ben Affleck. His short story "Animal Rescue" was also adapted into the film The Drop, noted for being the final film role for actor James Gandolfini.

Personal life

Lehane was born and raised in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He lived in the Boston area most of his life, where he sets most of his books, but now lives in southern California.[2] He spent summers on Fieldston Beach in Marshfield.[3] Lehane is the youngest of five children. His father was a foreman for Sears & Roebuck, and his mother worked in a Boston public school cafeteria.[4] Both of his parents emigrated from Ireland.[5] Lehane is a graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

His brother, Gerry Lehane, who is two and a half years older than Dennis, trained at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence and became an actor in New York in 1990. Gerry is a member of the Invisible City Theatre Company.[6]

Lehane is married to Chisa Lehane. He has two children from a previous marriage.

He is a graduate of Boston College High School (a Jesuit prep school),[5] Eckerd College (where he found his passion for writing),[citation needed] and the graduate program in creative writing at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. He occasionally made guest appearances as himself in the ABC comedy/drama TV series Castle.


Literary career

Lehane's first novel, A Drink Before the War (1994), which introduced the recurring characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, won the 1995 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel. The fourth novel in the series, Gone, Baby, Gone, was adapted into a film of the same title in 2007; it was directed by Ben Affleck and starred Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as Kenzie and Gennaro. Commenting on the movie after a sneak peek, Lehane said, "I saw the movie and it's terrific, I wasn't gonna say anything if I didn't like it but it's really terrific."[7] Reportedly, Lehane "has never wanted to write the screenplays for the films [based on his own books], because he says he has 'no desire to operate on my own child.'"[3]

Lehane at a book signing in February 2009

Lehane's novel Mystic River was adapted into a film in 2003; also called Mystic River and directed by Clint Eastwood, it starred Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon. Lehane can be briefly seen waving from a car in the parade scene at the end of the film. The novel itself was a finalist for the PEN/Winship Award and won the Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best Novel, the Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction, and France's Prix Mystère de la critique.

Lehane's first play, Coronado, debuted in New York in December 2005, produced by Invisible City Theater Company. The play had its regional premiere at American Stage in St. Petersburg in April 2006[8] and its Midwest premiere in the fall of 2007 with Steep Theatre Company in Chicago. Coronado is based on his acclaimed short story Until Gwen,[9] which was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly and was selected for both The Best American Short Stories and The Best Mystery Short Stories of 2005.[6]

Lehane described working on his historical novel, The Given Day,[10] as "a five- or six-year project." the novel opens in 1918 and encompasses the 1919 Boston Police Strike and its aftermath.[11] According to Lehane, "The strike changed everything. It had a big effect on the unionization movement, and Prohibition came on the heels of that, then Calvin Coolidge promising to break the unions. That's all linked to what's going on now.".[11] While Lehane's epic novel centers on the 1919 Boston police strike, it contains a national sweep and may be the first of a trilogy or perhaps a four-book series.[12] Lehane called the novel his "great white whale" and said that when he finally finished it, he would "either write a sequel—or take a break from the cops and return to Patrick and Angie."[7] The novel was published in October 2008.[13]

On October 22, 2007, Paramount Pictures announced that it had optioned Shutter Island with Martin Scorsese attached as director.[14] The Laeta Kalogridis-scripted adaptation has Leonardo DiCaprio playing U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, "who is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is presumed to be hiding on the remote Shutter Island."[15] Mark Ruffalo plays U.S. Marshal Chuck Aule.[16] Production started in March 2008; Shutter Island was released on February 19, 2010.

In 2010 Lehane published Moonlight Mile, his sixth book in the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series, and his first of that genre in 11 years.[17] He published World Gone By in March 2015.

Lehane was appointed to the board of trustees of the Boston Public Library by Mayor Thomas Menino in December 2011.[18]

Lehane's Small Mercies received praise from Richard Russo, who said: "Think of all your favorite hard-boiled authors (Hammett? Chandler? Ross Macdonald? Robert Parker?) and their tough guy heroes (Spade? Marlowe? Lew Archer? Spenser?). Not one of them could take Lehane’s Mary Pat in a fair fight, and they wouldn’t last a day in his Southie."[19]

Teaching career

Lehane at Barnes & Noble Union Square, New York City, August 15, 2006

Since becoming a literary success, Lehane has taught at several colleges. He taught fiction writing and serves as a member of the board of directors for the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.[20] He has also taught advanced fiction writing at Harvard University, where his classes quickly filled up.[citation needed]

In May 2005, Lehane was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Eckerd College and was appointed to Eckerd's board of trustees later that year. As of June 2006, he was living temporarily in St. Petersburg, Florida, and teaching as writer-in-residence at Eckerd (usually during the spring semester), where he also co-directs the Writers in Paradise conference each January.[21]

Film career

Lehane wrote and directed an independent film called Neighborhoods[citation needed] in the mid-1990s. Later described as similar to Good Will Hunting, it was set in Boston's working class areas like Southie and Dorchester. Its production ended in 1996, more than a year before the better-known Good Will Hunting.

Lehane joined the writing staff of the HBO drama series The Wire for the third season in 2004.[22][23] Lehane wrote the teleplay for the episode "Dead Soldiers" from a story by series creator and executive producer David Simon.[24][25] Lehane made a cameo appearance in the third-season episode, "Middle Ground," as Sullivan, an officer in charge of special equipment.[26][27] Lehane has commented that he was impressed by the show's creators (David Simon and Ed Burns) having such an ear for authentic street slang.[28] Lehane returned as a writer for the fourth season in 2006 and wrote the teleplay for the episode "Refugees," from a story he co-wrote with producer Ed Burns.[29][30] Lehane and the writing staff won the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Dramatic Series at the February 2008 ceremony and the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Television Feature/Mini-Series Teleplay for their work on the fourth season.[31][32] Lehane served as a writer for the fifth and final season in 2008 and was credited with the episode "Clarifications".[33][34] He and the writing staff were nominated for the WGA Award for Best Dramatic Series again at the February 2009 ceremony for their work on the fifth season but Mad Men won the award.[35]

He served as an executive producer for Shutter Island. On November 27, 2012, The Boston Herald reported that Lehane would join the writing staff of HBO's Boardwalk Empire as a writer and a creative consultant. He will consult with showrunner Terence Winter on the outline of the fourth season of the show, and he confirmed that he would write at least one episode.[36]

Lehane wrote his first film screenplay, The Drop, as an adaptation of his short story "Animal Rescue". The film stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and James Gandolfini (in his final film performance). Released September 12, 2014, the movie received positive reviews, particularly for its "smartly written script."[37][38] In 2013 Lehane was contracted to write a screenplay, Silk Road, about the online black market.[39] That same year he was attached to adapt the script for the remake of the critically acclaimed French film A Prophet, a prison drama.[40]




Kenzie & Gennaro series:

  1. A Drink Before the War (1994). ISBN 015100093X
  2. Darkness, Take My Hand (1996). ISBN 0688143806
  3. Sacred (1997). ISBN 0688143814
  4. Gone, Baby, Gone (1998). ISBN 0688153321
  5. Prayers for Rain (1999). ISBN 068815333X
  6. Moonlight Mile (2010). ISBN 0061836923

Coughlin series:

  1. The Given Day (2008). ISBN 978-0688163181
  2. Live by Night (2012). ISBN 978-0060004873
  3. World Gone By (2015). ISBN 978-0060004903


Short stories


Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2003 Mystic River USC Scripter Awards Won[A] [41]
2004 Edgar Awards Best Motion Picture Screenplay Nominated[B] [42]
2007 The Wire Best TV Feature or Mini-Series Teleplay Won[C] [31]
WGA Awards Outstanding Dramatic Series Won[D] [32]
2008 Nominated[E] [35]
2010 Animal Rescue Edgar Awards Best Short Story Nominated [42]
2013 Live by Night Best Novel Won [43]
Boardwalk Empire OFTA Awards Best Writing in a Drama Series Nominated[F] [44]
Note: Awards are listed in order of the effective years, annual ceremonies are usually held the following.

He has won other professional awards and honorary degrees: In Spring 2009, Lehane received the Joseph E. Connor Award and was made an honorary brother of the Phi Alpha Tau professional fraternity at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Other brothers and Connor Award recipients include Robert Frost, Elia Kazan, Jack Lemmon, Red Skelton, Edward R. Murrow, Yul Brynner, and Walter Cronkite.[45][46] Also in Spring 2009, Lehane presented the commencement speech at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts, and was awarded an honorary degree.[47] On October 6, 2015, Lehane won a spot in Best American Mystery Stories.




  1. ^ "Literary and Historical Notes". The Writer's Almanac. American Public Media. August 4, 2005. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  2. ^ National Public Radio program May 10, 2017, interview by Robin Young
  3. ^ a b Kristen Walsh, "Lehane likes to keep it close to home; Dorchester native favors South Shore locales", The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA). June 9, 2007. Pg. ONE21.
  4. ^ Bio: Dennis Lehane Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. Mystery Authors Online. 2004. Accessed July 13, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Introduction of Dennis Lehane by Dr. Donald R. Eastman, III Archived 2007-10-04 at the Wayback Machine. Eckerd College Commencement 2005. Accessed July 13, 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Inside Track; Lehane: 'Gone' great, baby, great" by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Erin Hayes. The Boston Herald. July 10, 2007. Pg. 010.
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2006-02-28. Retrieved 2006-03-04.
  8. ^ "After tedious first act, dark drama kicks into overdrive" by Marty Clear. St. Petersburg Times (Florida). April 27, 2006. Pg. 2B.
  9. ^ Steve Persall, "Staying True to His Words," St. Petersburg Times (Florida). Floridian; Pg. 1E. October 18, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Greenya, John (November 30, 2008). "The Given Day by Dennis Lehane" (Review). The Washington Times. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  11. ^ Jon Wilson, "Novelist sees college as creative hub," St. Petersburg Times (Florida). September 25, 2005. Pg. 9.
  12. ^ Colette Bancroft, "From Passing Thought to 'Fiery Epic'", St. Petersburg Times (Florida), Festival of Reading; Pg. 5. October 23, 2008.
  13. ^ ""Scorsese, DiCaprio team for 'Island': Paramount, Columbia to co-produce film" by Michael Fleming". Variety. October 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
  14. ^ Reagan, Gillian, "Scorsese, DiCaprio Team Up for Shutter Island" Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Observer citing Variety, October 23, 2007. Retrieved 2010-12-19.
  15. ^ Reagan, Gillian, "Ruffalo to Star in Scorsese's Shutter Island" Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Observer, November 27, 2007 9:41 a.m ET. Retrieved 2010-12-19.
  16. ^ Kung, Michelle (February 12, 2010). "The Author Who Aced Hollywood". The Wall Street Journal. p. W12. Retrieved July 20, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Dumcius, Gintautas (January 12, 2012). "Dot author Lehane tries on BPL trustee hat". Dorchester Report. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  18. ^ "Richard Russo Misses the Purity of Childhood Reading". The New York Times. 20 July 2023.
  19. ^ Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan, "Just call him Professor Lehane," The Boston Globe. July 12, 2006. Pg. E2.
  20. ^ "The Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Home Page". Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  21. ^ "Dennis Lehane biography". HBO. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  22. ^ "Season 3 crew". HBO. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  23. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 28 Dead Soldiers". HBO. 2004. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
  24. ^ a b David Simon, Dennis Lehane (2004-10-03). "Dead Soldiers". The Wire. Season 3. Episode 3. HBO.
  25. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 36 middle ground". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-09.
  26. ^ a b David Simon, George P. Pelecanos (2004-12-12). "Middle Ground". The Wire. Season 3. Episode 11. HBO.
  27. ^ Margaret Talbot (2007). "Stealing Life". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  28. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 41 Refugees". HBO. 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  29. ^ a b Dennis Lehane, Ed Burns (2004-10-31). "Refugees". The Wire. Season 4. Episode 4. HBO.
  30. ^ a b "Curtains Receives Edgar Award Nomination". Theatre Mania. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16.
  31. ^ a b "2008 Writers Guild Awards Television & Radio Nominees Announced". WGA. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
  32. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 58 Clarifications". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  33. ^ a b Dennis Lehane, David Simon (2008-02-24). "Clarifications". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 8. HBO.
  34. ^ a b "2009 Writers Guild Awards Television, Radio, News, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation Nominees Announced". Writers Guild of America Awards. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  35. ^ Fee, Gayle; Raposa, Laura (November 27, 2012). "Dennis Lehane signs on to HBO's 'Empire'". Boston Herald. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  36. ^ The Drop, 12 September 2014, retrieved 2022-12-30
  37. ^ Jones, J. R. "The Drop". Chicago Reader. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  38. ^ Hawker, Philippa (October 17, 2013). "Silk Roads Webbed Tale of Drugs and Murder to Become Film". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  39. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 29, 2013). "Dennis Lehane to Write Remake of French Pic 'A Prophet' for Sony (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  40. ^ "Past Scripter Awards: 2004". Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  41. ^ a b "Search the Edgar® Award Winners And Nominees". Archived from the original on September 27, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  42. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (May 3, 2013). "Dennis Lehane's Live by Night best novel of the year". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  43. ^ "2012-13: THE SEASON OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM". Online Film & Television Association. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  44. ^ Rosen, David (March 31, 2009). "Author, Screenwriter Dennis Lehane is honored at Emerson College". Emerson College. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  45. ^ "Connor Award Recipients". Phi Alpha Tau. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  46. ^ English, Bella (May 14, 2009). "Speakers reach for words that fit the times". The Boston Globe.