With 10 days to go until the release of New Year’s Eve, I decided to post every day about an influence on the novel.
Dennis Lehane is an extremely successful American screenwriter and crime author, and yet he is rarely talked about in the UK. I’m not sure why: the gothic, overblown paranoia of Shutter Island, for example, makes for an addictive slice of noir.
But what I will remember the most from his work is the ending of Gone Baby Gone. I first encountered the story through the film, and will always remember the conversation I had following the denouement. It was, quite honestly, the most baffling post-credits debate I can ever remember having (And this is coming from someone who spent hours attempting to untangle Donnie Darko’s plot with my best friend).
It was like my film-watching companion and I had watched two completely different films. We didn’t just have different takes on the characters or the plot.
We disagreed on whether a crime had actually occurred. In a thriller.
To say exactly how this influenced New Year’s Eve is to delve a little too deeply into plot specifics. All I will say is that I admire how Lehane’s open-ended conclusion exposes the prejudices of the reader. More than any other crime novel I know of, the writing withholds judgement, and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions on how much wrongdoing has occurred.
I was so impressed with this ending that I stole aspects of it when plotting the solution to the ‘whodunnit’ mystery of New Year’s Eve. It was my attempt to inject a little moral nuance into the novel, or at least give the villain a valid reason for the way they were acting.
I hope that this might give an extra flavour to the book. If nothing else, it gives my main character another problem to wrestle with: a troubled conscience.