Jason Koivu's Reviews > A Drink Before the War

A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, crime, mystery, detective

A crime drama set in '90s Boston?! Yes and thank you!

I came of age in the 1990s just 45 minutes outside of Boston. So much of this book speaks to me.

What didn't feel as intimate was the race relations/strife plot. There was one black family in my sleepy little suburban hometown when I grew up. I'm sure we had racists, but racism wasn't a thing because there weren't races, just a bunch of whities. The subject didn't come up unless it was in the newspapers. The city had its problems, has had its problems right along. A Drink Before the War touches upon Boston's race problem in a grand, as well as intimate, way.

Plot summary quickie: Two private investigators are tasked by local politicians to retrieve certain documents. The pair end up in the middle of a gang war. But something deeper and darker is going on, which pushes our heroes to go above and beyond the call of duty. Also, during the investigation one of the investigators struggles with memories of his own past while the other deals with an abusive husband. Big and small, political and personal storylines pulse throughout A Drink Before the War.

I loved the two main characters, maybe not as people, but at least as well developed characters. Why not as people? Well, no one is clean. I mean, just about everyone in this book has flaws. Some are bigger and harder to overlook than others. But Dennis Lehane was looking to prick his readers' moral repugnance and he did a hell of a job, all while telling a fast-paced thriller.

There's nothing wrong with this book from my perspective. So why didn't I give this a five star rating? It's fantastic! And yet, it doesn't quite feel like a masterpiece. Maybe it's because it spends most of its time in the dirt. You feel filthy after reading this one, tarnished by the crooked politicians, the degenerates, gangland violence, unrepentant slayings, etc. However, that was its intent and it succeeds...oh man, does it ever succeed.
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Reading Progress

April 4, 2012 – Shelved
February 25, 2017 – Started Reading
March 3, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent The next one is even better


Jason Koivu Dan wrote: "The next one is even better"

Paint me intriguerated!


Zach First Lehane book I ever read. My copy is filled with highlighted prose.


Jason Koivu Zach wrote: "First Lehane book I ever read. My copy is filled with highlighted prose."

The man can write a good line, can't he.


message 5: by Ned (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ned Great review Jason, it's my first from LeHane also, read last year. Your review makes me want to hasten the next.


Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Dan wrote: "The next one is even better"

yessss!


Jason Koivu Ned wrote: "Great review Jason, it's my first from LeHane also, read last year. Your review makes me want to hasten the next."

Thanks, Ned!


James Thane A great series. Wish there were more books in it.


message 9: by Meg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meg One of my favourite series. I hope you get to read the other books - they just get better and better. Bubba is probably one of my favourite fictional characters.


Jason Koivu Meg wrote: "One of my favourite series. I hope you get to read the other books - they just get better and better. Bubba is probably one of my favourite fictional characters."

Does Bubba become a little less of a bigot? I think I could love him more if he did.


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