Dennis Lehane is no stranger to success. His books “Shutter Island,” “Mystic River” and “Gone, Baby, Gone” have been made into films directed by no less than Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck.
The best-selling novelist, whose latest book is “Moonlight Mile,” appears in conversation with author Eddie Muller, founder of San Francisco’s annual Noir City Film Festival, on Thursday in a presentation sponsored by Litquake and the Film Noir Foundation.
Crime and its relationship to the human psyche are core elements of Lehane’s work, which is often praised for its razor-sharp portrayals of cities — sharing parallels with film noir.
“They feed into each other,” Lehane says of film noir and noir literature.
He adds, “I think we’re all fascinated by mortal events, by stories in which the stakes are very dire. You don’t truly know someone until you see how they react to a pressure point. That’s what drama is.”
Lehane is also quick to point out that noir attracts a different audience from either the “cozy mystery” or a whodunit thriller where the good guy always gets his man.
“It’s comfort food, and it’s an example of a kind of wish fulfillment,” says Lehane. “I like it, but noir is very much a working-class tragedy. It’s saying, ‘The world is not OK, it’s very rigged, and one man cannot beat the machine, but maybe he tries.’”
In “Moonlight Mile,” Lehane revisits a case from “Gone, Baby, Gone,” bringing back detective duo Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro investigating the disappearance of a teenager, who in the first novel has gone missing as a 4-year old.
Lehane did not at first envision “Moonlight Mile” as second part to the story.
“I never had a follow-up in mind,” Lehane says. “It just sort of happened. It started talking to me again, and this case seemed interesting to revisit.”
Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $12 to $15
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com, www.litquake.org