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As richly complex and brutal as the terrain it depicts, here is the mesmerizing, darkly original novel that heralded the arrival of Dennis Lehane, the master of the new noir—and introduced Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, his smart and tough private investigators weaned on the blue-collar streets of Dorchester.

A cabal of powerful Boston politicians is willing to pay Kenzie and Gennaro big money for a seemingly small job: to find the missing cleaning woman who stole some secret documents. As Kenzie and Gennaro learn, however, this crime is no ordinary theft. It's about justice. About right and wrong. But in Boston, finding the truth isn't just a dirty business … it's deadly.

Topics: Blackmail, First in a Series, First Person Narration, Boston, Massachusetts, Violent, Gritty, Noir, Gangsters, Corruption, Ethics, Politicians , Morality, Race Relations, Politics, Child Abuse, Missing Persons, Private Investigators, Assassination, and Women Detectives

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062015655
List price: $9.99
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4.5 stars for the detective genre book! Woo hoo! It's been a while since I've read a great detective book, and this was it. Totally loved it. Loved the connection of the detectives, Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie, but who wouldn't? The banter is wonderful and reminded me a little bit of the characters on Castle, which I also love. As far as detective novels go, this one is definitely high on my list - I look forward to reading more in Lehane's series and reading more by him as a result!more
Outstanding first in a series. Complex ethical questions drive the main characters to investigate. Not your b/w approach to solving crimes. Combine that with masterful prose and unrelenting pacing, you have a masterpiece.more
No question the writing style is effective. Just didn't like the plot or most of the characters.more
This is a thriller that is gritty, full of action, and fast paced. It is also the first book in a series that features private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. As the story opens, the investigative team is hired by a group of politicians to retrieve documents that have been stolen by the cleaning lady, who is now missing. As Patrick and Angie set out to track down the missing woman, they find themselves caught up between two rival gangs, and, as they discover just what the highly sought after documents contain, they face their own ethical dilemma about what the proper course of action should be. This type of book is comfort food for me. I love a good detective story that can sustain plot and pacing. Throw in lead characters that make you want to join them again for another adventure, and you have a winner, winner chicken dinner. So far, there are six books in this series by the author of Shutter Island, and I plan on reading every one of them. While not as well written as Shutter Island, this was also the author's first book, and so I look forward to experiencing his transition from adequate and engaging to brilliant mastermind (I absolutely LOVED Shutter Island).more
Totally enjoyable. I've been looking for something to lose myself in for a while, and a sister suggested this author. I didn't buy the final shootout scene and the peace-making with the one druglord at the end; but minor complaints, overall. I like a politically progressive thriller.more
This book grabbed me by the throat and didn't let me go. Dennis Lehane spins a fast-paced story with realistic characters: flawed protagonists with mixed motives, and all kinds of villains (some white collar, some wearing gang colors). It is tough and gritty; it deals with real-world ugliness and the seeming hopelessness of the mess that urban America has become: racism, violence, corrupt politics, gang warfare, abuse. The language is quite rough, though I didn't find it gratuitously so. The violence is fairly intense. But it's not just a bloodbath for the sake of violence. This is a book that explores the urban psyche and refuses to seek easy answers. It acknowledges the evil that lurks even within the "good guys" and acknowledges some of the forces that shape the "bad guys," while not letting anyone off the hook.I must also note how I enjoyed the portrayal of the Boston locale, the little details that took me back to times I've spent in that city. Lehane accurately portrayed the good, bad, and ugly -- though, admittely, I never saw quite the level of violence there that occurs in the heat of the gang war here portrayed! This book is the first in a series featuring Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. I plan to read more!more
This is the first book in a series featuring Boston Private Investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro; the film Gone Baby Gone is based on a later entry in the series. It's also the first book by Lehane I've ever read, and certainly won't be the last. First thing I noticed, then forgot to notice as I was sucked in, is that Lehane has a beautiful prose style, not what you usually see in genre fiction. Told by Kenzie in an engaging voice, the characterizations pop off the page and feel real, as does the depiction of Boston. I read in the Wiki that "The New York Times described the book as somewhat cliched but praised the honest approach to racial and class warfare. They also felt that the seriousness of the novel's themes made a jarring contrast with the flippancy of the detective characters." Cliched? Some elements sure were predictable and far-fetched on reflection. But it didn't feel like that to me when reading, maybe because I was so taken with the sense of place and style. I do think the reviewer is right about it being honest about the complexity, intractability and ugliness tangled in the issues of race and class, even if at times heavy-handed. And precisely because of that I think the reviewer missed the point about the so-called flippancy. The Wiki also notes that the title, spoken by a cop to Kenzie and Gennaro before the outbreak of a gang war comes from a BBC comedy series. I don't think the humor undercuts the seriousness--I think it underlines it and makes it bearable--for the characters and reader both. What will bring me to the next book though are Kenzie and Gennaro. I like them, flippancy and all, separately and together. The romance element was well done without feeling intrusive to the overall plot.more
Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are working on a case for 2 politicians: to find a missing cleaning worman and the documents she apparently took with her. They find the missing woman, but cross paths with her exhusband and her son, who are in warring gangs. Eventually they find the documents, but not before the gangs have open warfare and a friend is shot. Gritty, great characters, and Patrick and Angie. Up to Lehane's usual standards.more
Thought-provoking, and interesting, but not as much of a page-turner as Mystic River or Shutter Island.more
My husband loved A drink before the war, by Dennis LeHane. He likes mysteries, gritty inner-city tales, crime fiction with clever misdirection and intriguing characters, and this book has it all. It also has fast-paced writing, a fascinating first-person narrator, incisive point of view, and a realism that pulls the reader straight in from first page to the last. I’d delayed reading because I feared the novel might just be another long police procedural, but now I’ve read one I’ll certainly hope to read all of LeHane’s Kenzie and Gennaro books.Kenzie grew up in Boston. He has a backstory with a violent father that’s quietly hinted at but only very slowly revealed, reflecting his own desire not to dwell on it. Another backstory involves Kenzie’s feelings for Gennaro who works with him. But Gennaro is married, with problems all her own that Kenzie’s not allowed to solve for her. Their relationship is fun. Their dialog is superb. Their concern for each other is naturally down-played and powerfully real. The two of them would carry the reader even if the story weren’t so very intriguing. With a clever plot as well, politics, people, race, and larger than life figures that somehow fit the scenery perfectly, this book is definitely a winner. I can’t read the next one yet because my to-read list is simply too long. But I’m looking forward to it and I know I’ll enjoy it. LeHane now joins that select list of authors that my husband and I both love, and his characters join that group of imaginary people that we talk about while riding in the car.more
I've picked up my fair share of mysteries throughout my life. Frankly, when it comes to that genre, it doesn't take much to satisfy me. Give me a mildly dark, non-gory (although with this I can take or leave), whodunit and I'm happy. It doesn't need to be complicated. Just a well-written page-turner is all I ask for. And for me not to predict the whodunit before he/she actually, you know, does it (Though if I do figure it out, it must've been extremely simple because very rarely do I figure out the whodunit). For me, that's what mysteries are all about. A Drink Before the War wasn't exactly the perfect mystery, but it was still pretty damn good. Now, the whodunit aspect of the whole mystery genre isn't really present in A Drink Before the War because in the beginning, we already have an inkling as to who exactly dunit. This book unravels what exactly they did and the consequences of those actions. The "mystery" wasn't as dark as I usually like them (think Criminal Minds dark) and wasn't what kept me reading at all. That aspect was unexpected. Usually when I start a new mystery series, it's really the mystery that has to keep me intrigued. It's good to like and connect to the characters, but I, first and foremost, need to find the mystery intriguing. This didn't happen with A Drink Before the War. I did like (not love) the mystery, but what I loved were the characters; so much that I could ignore the lackluster mystery. Patrick (who's the narrator) was charming, smart, and funny in that self-deprecating way. It was refreshing to see a man in literature be aware of his shortcomings. Angie was pretty kick-ass in her own right especially towards the end. Now, their romance. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm not a romance fan unless it's Young-Adult (excluding Twilight), actual chick-lit, or various fanfics. I usually end up rolling my eyes at out-and-out romances and definitely if you have a well-written novel and just add romance in it so that the blurb can include romance to the list of all that's amazing about a particular book. You know the ones that have "Intrigue, horror, and romance! What more can you possibly ask for?!" I've seen many a book ruined by having a romantic subplot just for the sake of saying it's there (The Abortionist's Daughter). And in mysteries, the person just has to fall in love with their partner because there are no want-able, single people outside the bubble of their actual workplace. But color me surprised by thinking that this romance between Patrick and Angie...actually worked. I could see why these characters would be attracted to each other and that particular subplot was [gulp:] kinda, sorta, my favorite part. This book basically has me questioning where exactly did my life get off track that I'm enjoying a romance subplot where I previously never enjoyed one before. That's a bit life-affirming. Still, I'm hoping it was a one-off. Anyway, A Drink Before the War was a pretty good mystery. Sure the mystery aspect wasn't as dark as I like them and I found it a bit lacking (hence the four star rating and not five star), the characters are ultimately what made me enjoy this as much as I did. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series and learning more about these characters.more
I expected more. Earnestness in the guise of cynicism mars the tone fatally, as do action scenes that are insanely over the top and improbable. Prose style better than an average thriller makes this a decent page-turner for an airplane.more
A Drink Before War' began Dennis Lehane's deservedly popular Kenzie-Gennaro noir detective series. Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are the epitome of hardboiled private eyes based in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Lehane echoes Raymond Chandler with wisecracking tough guys, lurid violence, and plenty of fast-paced action. Lehane develops his characters emotionally while exploring the bitter racial divide between Dorchester and Roxbury. Kenzie is hired by a powerful white liberal State Senator to find his missing black cleaning lady - and some 'documents' that went missing when she did. Patrick and Angie do find her and that leads them right into the heart of a nasty family fight, one that is fought with brutality and finality. 'A Drink Before War' was Lehane's first novel and it shows at times. For example, there is some painfully bad dialogue in a clumsy bit of badinage that plays on the sexual tension between these two old friends from the neighborhood. Angie has found a phone number: "Angie said, 'Got it.' 'Give it to me.' She didn't, but she gave me the number." Groan, said the reader. Ok, so Lehane had room to grow in 1994 and grow he did as his work on this series (the second book is Darkness, Take My Hand (Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro Novels)), the great TV series The Wire - Seasons 1-4, and Mystic River demonstrate. 'A Drink Before War' is entertaining genre fiction with enough hints of greater promise to whet the reader's appetite for more. Recommended.more
In which we meet our heroes, Patrick Kensie and Angie Kennaro, private investigators in a Boston that quivers with racial tension as July 4 approaches. They are hired by a powerful state senator to retrieve some "documents" taken by a cleaning woman from his office. Locating Jenna takes very little time, but she is gunned down before she can tell Patrick the whole story about the justice she seeks.Patrick and Angie, along with their hired gun Bubba and an assortment of policemen, become involved in a gang war between Jenna's son and his father. Patrick has father issues of his own, which complicate the story, and which he resists dealing with. No doubt he'll make some slow progress on it in subsequent volumes. And he'll have to do some work on sorting out his relationship with his partner as well.We stay in Patrick's head for the entire novel, so events and people are filtered through his perceptions, and we get to know him better than the other characters. I find that in spite of his similarity to a host of other wisecrackers (Elvis Cole comes to mind), he has enough depth that he remains interesting. Both Patrick and others have ethical issues; he does things that don't square with his or our ideals, and Lehane challenges us to accept or reject them. A thought-provoking first book in a series. I will definitely look for the next one.more
First in the Kenzie/Gennaro series.Parick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are a private detective firm located in the working class area of Dorchester in south Boston. Weaned on the streets and culture of the Irish and Italians who are the largest ethnic groups in the area, Kenzie and Gennaro are highly intelligent, extremely good at their work, tough, and above all, knowledgeable about how Boston in general and their subculture in particular works.So when a powerful politician gives them a seemingly trivial job—recovering some stolen documents from a missing black cleaning woman—Gennaro and Kenzie are, to say the least, wary.As well they should be. This seemingly relatively innocuous job leads them into the nightmare of Boston’s gang warfare. Before the puzzle around the documents is solved, Kenzie and Gennaro will journey through some of the roughest territory on Boston’s streets and be forced to deal with some of the ugliest aspects of human behavior. Everything about this book is outstanding: the plotting, the evocation of Boston’s working class neighborhoods and ambience, the characters—all of them, from protagonists to minor players—original and with distinct voices of their own, and above all, truly superior writing.This is a superior book in any genre. Highly recommended.more
I decided to read this after watching Gone, Baby, Gone and reading Shutter Island and I am glad I did. Crime/detective novels are not exactly my most loved genres but this novel really was something special.Patrick Kensey is portrayed as a real person; quick witted, flawed, hopeful, and realistic. His partner Angie is not quite as fleshed out because we never see her in the first person but their relationship and how they feel for each other is one of the best parts of the novel.The storyline is relatively simple but the nuances and true to life details really made this novel special. The discussions about race, poverty and politics echo the same frustration and anger that has become a main stay of our society.Overall I was extremely pleased with the book and look forward to reading the rest of the series. 91/100more
Wow. Where was I in 1994 that I missed this? A Drink Before the War is a whiplash-inducing take on gang warfare, dirty politics and the things done to survive in an evil, uncaring world. The characters are fantastic, the plot moves along quickly, the violence is real, and the book takes on hard issues of race and race relations without wrapping things up in a pretty, but false, bow at the end. I'm definitely moving the rest of the series up on my list of books to read!more
Quite readable story about murder, gangland killings, and a pair of detectives who are interesting people with lives!more
First in the Kenzie/Gennaro series. I'd had a couple people suggest this series to me and they were all correct. I guessed the big reveal pretty early on but that didn't retract from the impact of the ending at all. Really good, and I'm looking forward to the rest of them.more
Dennis Lehane’s [A Drink before the War], introduces Patrck Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, private investigators in the under-belly of Boston. Kenzie operates out of a church belfry, the missing bell a mystery he can’t solve for fear of displacing his office. Angie, his partner in the business and a child-hood friend, regularly shows up to work sporting evidence of her husband’s brutal jealousy. When they take on a simple skip-trace on a politician’s office janitor, they stumble into a political corruption case and a gang war.Lehane is clearly Dasheill Hammet or Mickey Spillane’s long lost child, the modern-day noir master. The tone and the nature of the characters fit perfectly into the molds established by the masters of the genre before it became passé. And Lehane comments on the racial and economic politics in the interactions of his characters with a rare, if dangerous, frankness that echoes the moral ambiguity of most noir fiction. Bottom Line: A wonderful modern-noir mystery that takes on the difficulties of modern civilization in an honest way. A compelling introduction to Lehane’s mystery series.Five bones!!!!!more
Read all 21 reviews

Reviews

4.5 stars for the detective genre book! Woo hoo! It's been a while since I've read a great detective book, and this was it. Totally loved it. Loved the connection of the detectives, Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie, but who wouldn't? The banter is wonderful and reminded me a little bit of the characters on Castle, which I also love. As far as detective novels go, this one is definitely high on my list - I look forward to reading more in Lehane's series and reading more by him as a result!more
Outstanding first in a series. Complex ethical questions drive the main characters to investigate. Not your b/w approach to solving crimes. Combine that with masterful prose and unrelenting pacing, you have a masterpiece.more
No question the writing style is effective. Just didn't like the plot or most of the characters.more
This is a thriller that is gritty, full of action, and fast paced. It is also the first book in a series that features private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. As the story opens, the investigative team is hired by a group of politicians to retrieve documents that have been stolen by the cleaning lady, who is now missing. As Patrick and Angie set out to track down the missing woman, they find themselves caught up between two rival gangs, and, as they discover just what the highly sought after documents contain, they face their own ethical dilemma about what the proper course of action should be. This type of book is comfort food for me. I love a good detective story that can sustain plot and pacing. Throw in lead characters that make you want to join them again for another adventure, and you have a winner, winner chicken dinner. So far, there are six books in this series by the author of Shutter Island, and I plan on reading every one of them. While not as well written as Shutter Island, this was also the author's first book, and so I look forward to experiencing his transition from adequate and engaging to brilliant mastermind (I absolutely LOVED Shutter Island).more
Totally enjoyable. I've been looking for something to lose myself in for a while, and a sister suggested this author. I didn't buy the final shootout scene and the peace-making with the one druglord at the end; but minor complaints, overall. I like a politically progressive thriller.more
This book grabbed me by the throat and didn't let me go. Dennis Lehane spins a fast-paced story with realistic characters: flawed protagonists with mixed motives, and all kinds of villains (some white collar, some wearing gang colors). It is tough and gritty; it deals with real-world ugliness and the seeming hopelessness of the mess that urban America has become: racism, violence, corrupt politics, gang warfare, abuse. The language is quite rough, though I didn't find it gratuitously so. The violence is fairly intense. But it's not just a bloodbath for the sake of violence. This is a book that explores the urban psyche and refuses to seek easy answers. It acknowledges the evil that lurks even within the "good guys" and acknowledges some of the forces that shape the "bad guys," while not letting anyone off the hook.I must also note how I enjoyed the portrayal of the Boston locale, the little details that took me back to times I've spent in that city. Lehane accurately portrayed the good, bad, and ugly -- though, admittely, I never saw quite the level of violence there that occurs in the heat of the gang war here portrayed! This book is the first in a series featuring Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. I plan to read more!more
This is the first book in a series featuring Boston Private Investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro; the film Gone Baby Gone is based on a later entry in the series. It's also the first book by Lehane I've ever read, and certainly won't be the last. First thing I noticed, then forgot to notice as I was sucked in, is that Lehane has a beautiful prose style, not what you usually see in genre fiction. Told by Kenzie in an engaging voice, the characterizations pop off the page and feel real, as does the depiction of Boston. I read in the Wiki that "The New York Times described the book as somewhat cliched but praised the honest approach to racial and class warfare. They also felt that the seriousness of the novel's themes made a jarring contrast with the flippancy of the detective characters." Cliched? Some elements sure were predictable and far-fetched on reflection. But it didn't feel like that to me when reading, maybe because I was so taken with the sense of place and style. I do think the reviewer is right about it being honest about the complexity, intractability and ugliness tangled in the issues of race and class, even if at times heavy-handed. And precisely because of that I think the reviewer missed the point about the so-called flippancy. The Wiki also notes that the title, spoken by a cop to Kenzie and Gennaro before the outbreak of a gang war comes from a BBC comedy series. I don't think the humor undercuts the seriousness--I think it underlines it and makes it bearable--for the characters and reader both. What will bring me to the next book though are Kenzie and Gennaro. I like them, flippancy and all, separately and together. The romance element was well done without feeling intrusive to the overall plot.more
Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are working on a case for 2 politicians: to find a missing cleaning worman and the documents she apparently took with her. They find the missing woman, but cross paths with her exhusband and her son, who are in warring gangs. Eventually they find the documents, but not before the gangs have open warfare and a friend is shot. Gritty, great characters, and Patrick and Angie. Up to Lehane's usual standards.more
Thought-provoking, and interesting, but not as much of a page-turner as Mystic River or Shutter Island.more
My husband loved A drink before the war, by Dennis LeHane. He likes mysteries, gritty inner-city tales, crime fiction with clever misdirection and intriguing characters, and this book has it all. It also has fast-paced writing, a fascinating first-person narrator, incisive point of view, and a realism that pulls the reader straight in from first page to the last. I’d delayed reading because I feared the novel might just be another long police procedural, but now I’ve read one I’ll certainly hope to read all of LeHane’s Kenzie and Gennaro books.Kenzie grew up in Boston. He has a backstory with a violent father that’s quietly hinted at but only very slowly revealed, reflecting his own desire not to dwell on it. Another backstory involves Kenzie’s feelings for Gennaro who works with him. But Gennaro is married, with problems all her own that Kenzie’s not allowed to solve for her. Their relationship is fun. Their dialog is superb. Their concern for each other is naturally down-played and powerfully real. The two of them would carry the reader even if the story weren’t so very intriguing. With a clever plot as well, politics, people, race, and larger than life figures that somehow fit the scenery perfectly, this book is definitely a winner. I can’t read the next one yet because my to-read list is simply too long. But I’m looking forward to it and I know I’ll enjoy it. LeHane now joins that select list of authors that my husband and I both love, and his characters join that group of imaginary people that we talk about while riding in the car.more
I've picked up my fair share of mysteries throughout my life. Frankly, when it comes to that genre, it doesn't take much to satisfy me. Give me a mildly dark, non-gory (although with this I can take or leave), whodunit and I'm happy. It doesn't need to be complicated. Just a well-written page-turner is all I ask for. And for me not to predict the whodunit before he/she actually, you know, does it (Though if I do figure it out, it must've been extremely simple because very rarely do I figure out the whodunit). For me, that's what mysteries are all about. A Drink Before the War wasn't exactly the perfect mystery, but it was still pretty damn good. Now, the whodunit aspect of the whole mystery genre isn't really present in A Drink Before the War because in the beginning, we already have an inkling as to who exactly dunit. This book unravels what exactly they did and the consequences of those actions. The "mystery" wasn't as dark as I usually like them (think Criminal Minds dark) and wasn't what kept me reading at all. That aspect was unexpected. Usually when I start a new mystery series, it's really the mystery that has to keep me intrigued. It's good to like and connect to the characters, but I, first and foremost, need to find the mystery intriguing. This didn't happen with A Drink Before the War. I did like (not love) the mystery, but what I loved were the characters; so much that I could ignore the lackluster mystery. Patrick (who's the narrator) was charming, smart, and funny in that self-deprecating way. It was refreshing to see a man in literature be aware of his shortcomings. Angie was pretty kick-ass in her own right especially towards the end. Now, their romance. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm not a romance fan unless it's Young-Adult (excluding Twilight), actual chick-lit, or various fanfics. I usually end up rolling my eyes at out-and-out romances and definitely if you have a well-written novel and just add romance in it so that the blurb can include romance to the list of all that's amazing about a particular book. You know the ones that have "Intrigue, horror, and romance! What more can you possibly ask for?!" I've seen many a book ruined by having a romantic subplot just for the sake of saying it's there (The Abortionist's Daughter). And in mysteries, the person just has to fall in love with their partner because there are no want-able, single people outside the bubble of their actual workplace. But color me surprised by thinking that this romance between Patrick and Angie...actually worked. I could see why these characters would be attracted to each other and that particular subplot was [gulp:] kinda, sorta, my favorite part. This book basically has me questioning where exactly did my life get off track that I'm enjoying a romance subplot where I previously never enjoyed one before. That's a bit life-affirming. Still, I'm hoping it was a one-off. Anyway, A Drink Before the War was a pretty good mystery. Sure the mystery aspect wasn't as dark as I like them and I found it a bit lacking (hence the four star rating and not five star), the characters are ultimately what made me enjoy this as much as I did. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series and learning more about these characters.more
I expected more. Earnestness in the guise of cynicism mars the tone fatally, as do action scenes that are insanely over the top and improbable. Prose style better than an average thriller makes this a decent page-turner for an airplane.more
A Drink Before War' began Dennis Lehane's deservedly popular Kenzie-Gennaro noir detective series. Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are the epitome of hardboiled private eyes based in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Lehane echoes Raymond Chandler with wisecracking tough guys, lurid violence, and plenty of fast-paced action. Lehane develops his characters emotionally while exploring the bitter racial divide between Dorchester and Roxbury. Kenzie is hired by a powerful white liberal State Senator to find his missing black cleaning lady - and some 'documents' that went missing when she did. Patrick and Angie do find her and that leads them right into the heart of a nasty family fight, one that is fought with brutality and finality. 'A Drink Before War' was Lehane's first novel and it shows at times. For example, there is some painfully bad dialogue in a clumsy bit of badinage that plays on the sexual tension between these two old friends from the neighborhood. Angie has found a phone number: "Angie said, 'Got it.' 'Give it to me.' She didn't, but she gave me the number." Groan, said the reader. Ok, so Lehane had room to grow in 1994 and grow he did as his work on this series (the second book is Darkness, Take My Hand (Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro Novels)), the great TV series The Wire - Seasons 1-4, and Mystic River demonstrate. 'A Drink Before War' is entertaining genre fiction with enough hints of greater promise to whet the reader's appetite for more. Recommended.more
In which we meet our heroes, Patrick Kensie and Angie Kennaro, private investigators in a Boston that quivers with racial tension as July 4 approaches. They are hired by a powerful state senator to retrieve some "documents" taken by a cleaning woman from his office. Locating Jenna takes very little time, but she is gunned down before she can tell Patrick the whole story about the justice she seeks.Patrick and Angie, along with their hired gun Bubba and an assortment of policemen, become involved in a gang war between Jenna's son and his father. Patrick has father issues of his own, which complicate the story, and which he resists dealing with. No doubt he'll make some slow progress on it in subsequent volumes. And he'll have to do some work on sorting out his relationship with his partner as well.We stay in Patrick's head for the entire novel, so events and people are filtered through his perceptions, and we get to know him better than the other characters. I find that in spite of his similarity to a host of other wisecrackers (Elvis Cole comes to mind), he has enough depth that he remains interesting. Both Patrick and others have ethical issues; he does things that don't square with his or our ideals, and Lehane challenges us to accept or reject them. A thought-provoking first book in a series. I will definitely look for the next one.more
First in the Kenzie/Gennaro series.Parick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are a private detective firm located in the working class area of Dorchester in south Boston. Weaned on the streets and culture of the Irish and Italians who are the largest ethnic groups in the area, Kenzie and Gennaro are highly intelligent, extremely good at their work, tough, and above all, knowledgeable about how Boston in general and their subculture in particular works.So when a powerful politician gives them a seemingly trivial job—recovering some stolen documents from a missing black cleaning woman—Gennaro and Kenzie are, to say the least, wary.As well they should be. This seemingly relatively innocuous job leads them into the nightmare of Boston’s gang warfare. Before the puzzle around the documents is solved, Kenzie and Gennaro will journey through some of the roughest territory on Boston’s streets and be forced to deal with some of the ugliest aspects of human behavior. Everything about this book is outstanding: the plotting, the evocation of Boston’s working class neighborhoods and ambience, the characters—all of them, from protagonists to minor players—original and with distinct voices of their own, and above all, truly superior writing.This is a superior book in any genre. Highly recommended.more
I decided to read this after watching Gone, Baby, Gone and reading Shutter Island and I am glad I did. Crime/detective novels are not exactly my most loved genres but this novel really was something special.Patrick Kensey is portrayed as a real person; quick witted, flawed, hopeful, and realistic. His partner Angie is not quite as fleshed out because we never see her in the first person but their relationship and how they feel for each other is one of the best parts of the novel.The storyline is relatively simple but the nuances and true to life details really made this novel special. The discussions about race, poverty and politics echo the same frustration and anger that has become a main stay of our society.Overall I was extremely pleased with the book and look forward to reading the rest of the series. 91/100more
Wow. Where was I in 1994 that I missed this? A Drink Before the War is a whiplash-inducing take on gang warfare, dirty politics and the things done to survive in an evil, uncaring world. The characters are fantastic, the plot moves along quickly, the violence is real, and the book takes on hard issues of race and race relations without wrapping things up in a pretty, but false, bow at the end. I'm definitely moving the rest of the series up on my list of books to read!more
Quite readable story about murder, gangland killings, and a pair of detectives who are interesting people with lives!more
First in the Kenzie/Gennaro series. I'd had a couple people suggest this series to me and they were all correct. I guessed the big reveal pretty early on but that didn't retract from the impact of the ending at all. Really good, and I'm looking forward to the rest of them.more
Dennis Lehane’s [A Drink before the War], introduces Patrck Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, private investigators in the under-belly of Boston. Kenzie operates out of a church belfry, the missing bell a mystery he can’t solve for fear of displacing his office. Angie, his partner in the business and a child-hood friend, regularly shows up to work sporting evidence of her husband’s brutal jealousy. When they take on a simple skip-trace on a politician’s office janitor, they stumble into a political corruption case and a gang war.Lehane is clearly Dasheill Hammet or Mickey Spillane’s long lost child, the modern-day noir master. The tone and the nature of the characters fit perfectly into the molds established by the masters of the genre before it became passé. And Lehane comments on the racial and economic politics in the interactions of his characters with a rare, if dangerous, frankness that echoes the moral ambiguity of most noir fiction. Bottom Line: A wonderful modern-noir mystery that takes on the difficulties of modern civilization in an honest way. A compelling introduction to Lehane’s mystery series.Five bones!!!!!more
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