The first time I met Karen Nichols, she struck me as the kind of woman who ironed her socks.
Prayers for Rain opens with Patrick Kensie being hired by Karen Nichols to deal with a stalker. After the events of Gone Baby Gone, Kensie no longer partners with Angie, but spends more time with his friend Bubba, the arms dealer. They deal with the stalker and everything seems right in the world until Kensie hears that Karen committed suicide by jumping naked from the observatory deck of the Custom House. Plagued by a feeling that Karen didn't seem the type to kill herself, Kensie is determined to look into her death. He soon discovers that someone was playing mind games on Karen and most likely drove her to suicide. Who did this and why are part of a much bigger plot planned by the most devious villain Kensie has ever found himself up against.
Continuing some themes from GBG, Kensie has become tired of the private investigator scene. Some might read that Lehane was growing tired of private eyes as well, since this book from 1999 is the last time we see Kensie and Angie Gennaro until 2010's Moonlight Mile. Along with the theme of weariness about the sickness in the world, I was reminded quite a few times of Ross Macdonald because a lot of family secrets come into play with the case.
While they are no longer a couple and no longer partners, Angie does play a big role in this book. Angie shows up on page 135 and Kensie asks her for a favor. Of course the favor only piques her curiosity, and soon, she and Kensie are working the case together.
I've gushed about how much I love Lehane's work before, and if you haven't read him yet, I don't know what your problem is. His language is as good as anyone working today and his characters are so layered and lifelike. Prayers for Rain isn't, in my eyes, as awesome as A Drink Before the War or Gone, Baby, Gone, but it's still better than most other books out there.