MentorPublicLibrary's Reviews > A Drink Before the War

A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane
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's review
Dec 17, 2009

bookshelves: crime, sarah-o, grace-p

A Drink Before the War is Lehane's first book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series. People might be more familiar with Gone Baby Gone, as it was made into a movie a few years back. The series takes place in the grittier neighborhoods of Boston, and contains even grittier characters. There is a political element involved in this, but think more along the lines of drugs, prostitution, gangs and murder.

This is written in the noir tradition, but with a modern edge. Classic noir features hard-boiled characters in a bleak urban setting. The setting here is right, but Lehane's main characters have conscience, while maybe the criminals don't.

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro run a private investigating firm out of an old church belltower in Boston. They are hired to find some sensitive State Department documents and the cleaning woman who stole them. The pair then find themselves in the middle of a gang war; one is run by an older man with ties to the cleaning woman and her son; the other is run by a teenager with a heavy trigger finger. Racial tension is high, and can date the book slightly, but it should not take away from the story, only add to the atmosphere.

The bigget selling points of the book are its well-developed characters and the atmosphere. Towards the middle of the book, Patrick & Angie seem like old friends. They are working, down-to-Earth people, but their job makes them just a tad more interesting than the rest of us who have desk jobs. Lehane gives the reader plenty of insight into their inner thoughts & provides plenty of background information, so that they are very likable, sympathetic & gives a feeling of having known them since grade school. The other selling point is the Boston atmoshpere in all its dirty glory. This is the side most tourists don't see, but make one heck of a background for these two detectives. Hey, the plot isn't that bad either.

--Submitted by: Sarah O.

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