Monday, April 25, 2016
Review of A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane (HarperTorch, 1994)
A Drink Before the War was Dennis Lehane’s debut novel and the first of six in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. The tale is essentially a PI thriller, with Kenzie and Gennaro running the gauntlet of high-powered politicians, two rival gangs, and cynical, hard-nose police while trying to locate a missing cleaner accused of stealing documents. Kenzie and Gennaro are both damaged goods – Kenzie living in the shadow of his abusive father and Gennaro is trapped in a violent marriage – and there is a strong sexual chemistry between the two that forms a main sub-plot. Lehane maintains a steady pace and keeps the tension high as they cannonball from one difficult situation to another and the body count rises. While the essential ingredients of the plot – a missing person, child abuse, extortion, revenge – are nicely blended, Lehane occasionally pushes the action into a little-over-top territory and there are a couple of plot devices that feel a little forced. The real star of the tale, however, is Boston, with Lehane’s descriptions of the city providing a strong sense of place. An entertaining read that nicely sets up the series.