The Drop by Dennis Lehane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A couple days after Christmas, Bob, a lonely bartender finds a nearly dead puppy in a garbage can. When the bar he tends is robbed one night, Bob's life circles the drain. Suddenly, a cop named Torres is asking about a decade-old murder, the Chechens that own the bar want their 5,000 dollars back, and a lowlife named Eddie Deeds wants ten thousand dollars for the dog Bob found in the trash. What's a friendless bartender to do?
I've made no secret of the fact that I like my crime books lean and mean. The Drop is certainly that.
Dennis Lehane spins another yarn of Boston's less than sparkling neighborhoods. The Drop, named after Cousin Marv's drop bar, is a tale of secrets. Who killed Glory Days? Who robbed Cousin Marv's? Why does Bob never take communion at church?
Since The Drop started it's life as a short story, it a slim tale and a departure from most of Lehane's more recent work. It could easily be mistaken for an unearthed pulp tale from the days of yore, a slim volume with very little filler. Make no mistake, though, The Drop is pure Lehane. It's pretty amazing what he does to establish a neighborhood in so few pages.
Bob is a likeable loser and I instantly liked him when he pulled Rocco out of the trash. While I was enjoying the tale, I wasn't looking forward to having my psyche shattered if something happened to the dog over the course of the story. As for the humans other than Bob, I wasn't overly concerned if any of them should happen to meet his or her maker. For a short novel, Bob sure has a lot of wolves nipping at his heels. Torres, the Chechens, Deeds, possibly Marv, the poor guy has a lot on his plate.
While I didn't enjoy it as much as the Kenzie and Gennaro books, The Drop shows that Lehane still knows how to spin a crime yarn. Four out of five stars.
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