BOOK: A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane.

After having recently read our first-ever book in Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie series, Prayers for Rain, both my husband and I are totally hooked on his stuff (we were already fans of his episodes of the terrific cop series The Wire, and also of the films Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone). This novel is actually the first in the series and while Mr. Meg loved it, I have to confess Mrs. Meg was actually just a tiny bit underwhelmed. That is, the story and characters are great — brilliant, even. But it really felt like a “first novel” to me, a concept Mr. Meg seemed confused by. Possibly because he doesn’t read very many novels to begin with (he’s a non-fiction guy, mostly) (nerd).

That said, a “first novelish” Lehane novel is still worlds above most of the other crime fiction you’ll stumble across out there, so definitely put this one, and the entire Kenzie series for that matter, in your to-read pile. This installment introduces us to the characters of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, two long-time South Boston buddies who have opened up a private investigator’s office in a local church belfry. When this book begins, Angela is actually married to someone else (an abusive jerk, as a matter of fact), so the two are not dating yet (like in later books). But they have great sexual tension, which is almost as much fun, and are both really vividly-drawn characters with loads of personality (I also confess to a moderate crush on their sidekick, Bubba, for reasons I don’t quite understand).

Their first case is brought to them by a local politician, who wants to hire them to find a cleaning lady who has stolen some “documents” and then disappeared. Only, once Patrick and Angela find her, they discover all is not quite what it seems. Their continued investigation leads them deep into the worlds of political corruption and child pornography, and ultimately ends in a massive gang war that takes out dozens of people city-wide. Lots of rough and tumble action, snappy dialogue, and intensity abounds. The one flaw I’d say it had is that it could’ve used some serious tightening up in a few places — places where I started to feel bogged down in conversations between some of the characters that had no real direct application to the storyline or even to their own development. That’s where the book started to feel a little n00bish to me. Other than that, though, this is a gripping read, and definitely one I highly recommend to fans of gritty crime fiction.


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One Response to “BOOK: A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane.”

  1. Liz Says:

    My husband is a “non-fiction guy” too – does that make him a nerd? I don’t read nearly as much as you do, but I must confess, many of the books you review do sound interesting.

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