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The Barkeep

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  5,956 Ratings  ·  437 Reviews
Justin Chase is the perfect barkeep, tending bar as he lives his life, in a state of Zen serenity, until Birdie Grackle, a foul-mouthed alcoholic, walks into his bar and makes a startling confession. Six years ago Justin's life was ripped apart when he discovered his mother's bludgeoned corpse. Now Justin's father is serving a life sentence and Justin drowns his emotions i ...more
Kindle Edition, 468 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by Thomas & Mercer
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(showing 1-30)
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Doug Hoffman
I downloaded The Barkeep with great anticipation but having plowed through 40% of the book I find I can no longer continue reading it. Perhaps it was my own expectations that led to this disappointment; I am a fan of old style thrillers/murder mysteries by the likes of Robert Parker, John McDonald, and Nelsen DeMille. I expect a novel to have an identifiable protagonist and a plot that has overall direction—this novel has neither. The characters are all distinctly unlikable, the barkeep himself ...more
Although the plot of this mystery is decent, it is the characterizations that will keep you reading. Justin Chase is the name of the barkeep in the title - the man behind the wood, a mixologist, a pour man. He graduated from law school, but never took the (ahem) bar exam - to become a lawyer, that is. Justin eschews television, furniture, and commitments. He is a Zen guy, trying to recover from psychic wounds sustained when he discovered his murdered mother's body.

Derek is dim (A Clockwork Oran
Jan 18, 2014 R. rated it it was ok
The Barkeep is an exercise in "what could have been" in that it had an interesting premise and a diverse cast of characters; all of which collapsed like a drunkard at the end of a bad night. About a third of the way through the narrative, the story seemed to spiral out of Lashner's control and became something of a caricature of itself. By the time of the final confrontation between the main character and his father, the eye rolling was offset only by the self-questioning of why, oh why, had I s ...more
Fred Forbes
Mar 02, 2016 Fred Forbes rated it really liked it
Yeah, I know. I tend to run when I encounter a book written by an author who attended the Iowa Writer's Workshop since the prose is often pretentious, the work a bit too "precious" and often features the avant-garde dismissal of various rules of grammar such as punctuation and quote marks. But, my sister, who happens to live in Philadelphia where this story occurs dropped it on me as a gift and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. Clever use of chapter headings named after drinks which are t ...more
Karen M. Utes
Jan 04, 2014 Karen M. Utes rated it liked it
Too much much detail on how to mix drinks.

The overall plot was fine but I really didn't care for most of the characters. There was too much detail on how to mix drinks given and I wasn't fond of all the "Zen" philosophy the author included. By the end of the by I was just ready for it to be over. I would read this author again - another set of characters might be more likeable.
Max Everhart
Feb 27, 2014 Max Everhart rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Justin Chase is an ex-law student turned traveling bartender who follows the teachings of The Tibetan Book of the Dead to numb the pain of his mother's murder, the murder that Justin's father is now rotting away in prison for. One night while tending bar, Chase makes the acquaintance of Birdie Grackle, an alcoholic hit man who claims to have killed Chase's mother. For a price, Birdie is willing to tell Chase who hired Birdie to kill Chase's mother. Instead of paying the hit man for the informati ...more
Jan 11, 2014 Debbie rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received this as a free bonus in the Kindle First program.

It is not a book I would have normally purchased but since it was free and I was ready for some lighter fiction work, I tackled it.

There were lots of twists and turns to the plot but I didn't find the novel "spell binding." It was okay, but I can't honestly give it a rave review.

Jan 28, 2014 Tanya rated it really liked it
Started out slow and a little boring, but was able to keep me reading. By about halfway, I couldn't put it down. Good story.
Mike Walter
Feb 09, 2014 Mike Walter rated it really liked it
Guy walks into a bar and calls the barkeeper by his first name. Barkeep asks "you know me?" and the guy says, "I knew your mom. I'm the one who killed her."

How's that for an opening chapter. The Barkeep kept me interested throughout. I don't read a lot of "thrillers" because they are often very predictable and not well written. I found this story kept me guessing and Lashner's writing was perfect. The characters all have their own voice and I thought they were fleshed out and seemed real to me.
Feb 01, 2014 Dinah rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Justin's mother was murdered 6 years ago. He thought he had put it behind him until an old man walks into his bar and takes credit for the deed.
The book is a murder mystery with a cast of interesting characters.
Jim Heskett
Feb 08, 2014 Jim Heskett rated it really liked it
Cons: too many characters, too often they all sound the same when they speak. Too much dialogue without attribution

Pros: a page-turner. An exciting, hard to predict mystery. At times very clever. Some great characterization.
Jami Sikkink
Feb 22, 2014 Jami Sikkink rated it it was ok
Interesting enough to finish, but not enough to recommend!
Feb 08, 2016 Linda rated it liked it
A good, suspenseful thriller with a couple of nice twists. The title character, Justin, was a little inaccessible, but I understand the reasons for his being written that way.

3.5 stars
kyle smitheram
Feb 17, 2014 kyle smitheram rated it really liked it
A Zentertaining Thriller

Lashner seems to have a great grasp on making drinks, but I'm not sure if he has all of the dynamics of being a Barkeep down. Granted there are likely not too many bartenders like the main character of The Barkeep (Justin Chase) in the world, but he still seems to be a little too much of a caricature of what we expect a bartender to be, rather than who bartenders really are.

Don't let this observation about the main character dissuade you too much though. He is an interes
Jan 27, 2014 Kaitlin rated it really liked it
The Barkeep
by William Lashner
Available 2/1/14
Downloaded free from Kindle First program

Rating:4 bones

Finish Time: 6 nights. I wasn’t super excited about this book at first, but I’m trying to branch out from just NetGalley books, so I’ll try and pick one of the 4 books I’m offered each month through Kindle First. Last month it went well (The Widow File), and I’m happy to report, this one didn’t disappoint either. And I’m always honored to review a book before it’s release!

One thing that stood out
Sally Sparrow
Feb 19, 2014 Sally Sparrow rated it it was amazing
William Lashner’s The Barkeep is an interesting tale. It is told from many points of view, which allows Mr. Lashner to expose his characters’ introspections without getting bogged down in telling dialog. The pace of the story is slow, yet quick. The time covered is maybe two weeks, but all of the self-analysis masks the passing of time.

Mackenzie Chase was put away for the murder of his wife six years before the book begins. His younger son, Justin, a law student at the time, is the one to discov
Jan 09, 2014 D rated it it was ok
A bit hallow

All the characters are flawed, unlikable and shallow including the leading man Justin Chase who read the Tibetan Book of the Dead and mistook meditation to be a study of sealing your heart and soul into a tiny box and throwing it in a very cold ocean. For the first 1/2 of the book I kept asking myself is he serious? How can one be spiritual and completely detached? How can a lesson in being present and accepting of what is be turned into an excuse for walking through life like a zomb
Feb 08, 2014 James rated it liked it
This was mindless fiction I picked up on my Kindle and read while I was procrastinating. It was an interesting enough story. Categorized as a thriller, it tells the story of Justin a lawschool graduate turned teetotaler bar tender at a trendy bar in Philly. Justin's mother was murdered six years earlier and he discovered her mutilated body. Justin's testimony helped put his father in jail for her death. However when a man walks into Justin's bar six years later and confesses to killing his mothe ...more
Jessica White
Jan 10, 2014 Jessica White rated it really liked it
The Barkeep

At first the story was slow,too slow. I'm an avid reader.of crime novels and really like a book that explodes.from.the gate like a hopped up race horse. Since the book was free I was compelled to complete the book which turned out to be a good thing, it was so full of twists and turns I wasn't sure from one page to the next if I was sure of anything. At times I had to go back a page or two and reread them looking to pick up the thread I had missed. Mr. Slasher kept me pinned to my sea
Colt Leasure
Apr 30, 2014 Colt Leasure rated it it was amazing
THE BARKEEP by William Lashner. "You get into a habit of low expectations, which gives you a sort of contentment. You go through life as if through a mist, seeing little farther than your nose and scorning all that only appears wispy and faint. Then a bolt of lightning splits the mist and gives you a glimpse of all you might be missing. And doesn't that just ruin the hell out of your day?"

The Barkeep by William Lashner was a very impressive crime novel, with a unique cast of characters and a gri
Dec 29, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing
The mystery is given to the listener in the first few minutes of the story. A crazy sounding old man approaches the barkeep and tells him he killed his mother and his father is falsely imprisoned. The charm for the story lies elsewhere. The barkeep uses one book as his guide book, "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" and embraces the Tao of that book giving him a Zen like detachment from the rest of the world. The barkeep also keeps the code of the bartender and knows how to separate himself from patr ...more
Caroline Mathews
Mar 12, 2014 Caroline Mathews rated it liked it
Barkeep is so refreshing that I ought to give it a fourth star - but you know that I save that designation for the more literary work. The outstanding stuff.

I like Lashner's character development strategy. Lately, I've been reading authors who go on and on; too much information about what the protagonists ate, what they thought, how they looked, who their friends were, things they did last year. Yet in the end the characters were not likable, obviously contrived to be the heroes in mystery stori
Sep 25, 2014 Angela rated it liked it
Not exactly your standard-issue thriller. Justin Chase tends bar in one of the city's more trendy nightspots. It's more trendy because Justin is behind the bar. He has a following. He also has a father in prison for the murder of his mother; and an older brother who resents him because his testimony was instrumental in the conviction of their father. Justin practices a peculiar sort of Zen philosophy by remaining detached: from possessions, from relationships, from work, from life. He's cultivat ...more
Apr 11, 2014 John rated it really liked it
Keeping things topped off

That's what a great barkeep does right? Not just the skill in mixing your drink although without that skill shining through in the taste and presentation there's no "great". And it's not just the unique detachment that is so necessary - as is repeatedly and so skillfully woven into this story. No the signature of a great barker like the protagonist of The Barkeep, Justin Chase, demonstrates over and over when he is "behind the wood" is knowing when (and when not to) keep
Jan 07, 2014 Tasha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, kindle-first
Kindle First January Book Review:

I really wanted to give this book 4 stars but I just couldn’t…

It was a little slow but by chapter 5 or 6 I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down and found the murder mystery very riveting and intriguing. I really liked the development of the main characters they really pulled me in. I felt a connection to Justin, he was flawed no doubt but his struggles with finding himself were relatable (if if the reason he was a “lost soul” were not). Same can be said for Annie a
Mar 06, 2014 Yvonne rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This was all right. The main character is this new agey, meditating and philosophical kind of guy who's a bartender, hence the title. But it turns out that he's not really all that Zen as he's hiding from a lot of unpleasantness in his life like the fact that his mother was murdered and his dad is in prison. The fragile peace he's feeling is shattered when an old man comes into his bar claiming to have been the one who killed his mother.

This is supposed to be a thriller but it didn't quite live
Ken Doggett
Jan 27, 2014 Ken Doggett rated it really liked it
This is a first-rate story by a first-rate writer, and I enjoyed reading it. The writing is clever and accomplished, with only one error that I could find: using the incorrect phrase "different than," which has become ubiquitous in our grammar-challenged society, instead of the correct "different from." I'm not a grammar Nazi, but I've grown tired of it's use by TV journalists and novel writers alike, and if this writer could master that particular error, he would be nearly flawless. I found no ...more
Antoinette Perez
This is a tasty little morsel of a mystery novel. Not my genre at all, and a bit grittier than I'm used to. I like that it takes a long time for us to get to know the characters, and to build confidence that we understand how they are all connected. The main character, Justin, adopts a life of faux spirituality to get some distance from disturbing emotional stuff in his past, and through the course of the book he grows up (as many of us do) to understand that the same philosophy he used to justi ...more
Bill H.
Feb 20, 2014 Bill H. rated it liked it
Well-plotted with adequately prepared twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages. A man walks into a bar and tells the bartender that he was hired to kill the bartender's mother some years before. No joke! He seems to have a memento and inside information on how it was done. This launches the bartender into an investigation, and things get complicated. Lashner tightens the suspense by also going into the mind and actions of a mentally challenged, but very efficient killer who follows ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Nenette rated it liked it
This was an okay book...I'm rating it 3.5, actually. I believe all the author's intentions for the book were fulfilled: it being a mystery, thriller, love story, family drama, etc. I just feel that some loose ends were left hanging in the end, or was it me who just didn't get it? Where's the insurance money, why was it held and didn't go to the Chase brothers?

It wasn't as exciting for me to give it a 4; I guess the Zen thing was getting in the way. There was so much over-thinking, so much self-
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Murderer 1 3 Jun 08, 2015 01:58PM  
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William Lashner, a former Philadelphia lawyer, is a graduate of New York University Law School and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has served as trial attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Justice Department. He lives with his family outside of Philadelphia.

Under the pseudonym Tyler Knox he wrote the noir novel, Kockroach.

* Victor Carl Mystery
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“Life is unbearably perverse; that which we most seek to avoid always becomes unavoidable.” 6 likes
“There’s a place you can get to. It’s hard to find and it’s easy to fall out of, but there it is, that place. It is the sweetest place you’ve never been and it’s called I Don’t Give a Crap. Book yourself a ticket.” 2 likes
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