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.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Lehane's assured debut avoids several common first-mystery flaws before stalling on a less ordinary one. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, two young, smart-mouthed Boston PIs, are hired by a trio of prominent macho politicians to find a State House cleaning woman who may have purloined some important "documents." The pair quickly learns that Jenna Angeline has no documents. She does have a son and a husband who lead rival black street gangs, an angry sister and a photo of one of the pols with her husband in a hotel room. While helping Patrick, Jenna is gunned down in a hail of Uzi fire; gang war is quickly declared, and the two detectives aim for a plan that will avenge the innocent and punish the guilty. Lehane leaps right into the action; more gradually, we learn about Pat's abusive father, Angie's abusive husband and the attraction smoldering between the two principals. The light tone and whipsaw banter, however, can't carry the pace when the action later slows in this mystery that starts with a bang and goes on shooting-but doesn't hit the bull's eye. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.