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Friday 19 December 2014

‘The Drop’ by Dennis Lehane

Published by Abacus,
2 September 2014.
ISBN: 9780349140728

I've read all of Dennis Lehane's book, from the first Kenzie and Gennaro  A Drink Before the War to the brilliant Mystic River, which was made into an even more brilliant movie.  So I'm up there among the Lehane cheerleaders.

However, as a novel, The Drop is a bit of a mongrel.  It started life as a short story called Animal Rescue,  was later given a screen play treatment and turned into a film called The Drop, and then into a crime story which is the novelisation of the movie. It's a great story, though I think its origins detract a little from it. But I don't believe Lehane can write anything that is less than good.  

The plot hinges on the rescue of a pit bull pup which has been chucked into a large metal trash can and is 'one breath away from deciding it was too hard to take the next."    Bob, an unhappy misfit of a bartender who cannot find love and companionship and is slowly dying of loneliness, rescues it, incidentally meeting another misfit – Nadia – in the course of getting the pup out of the trash.  Bob works for his cousin Marv, who ostensibly owns a bar which has been commandeered by a gang of Chechen criminals who use the place as a 'drop', ie a place to store illegal money until it can be moved on. They've decided to use the bar as the 'drop' for the takings from Superbowl Sunday, the biggest betting day of the sporting year, which will add up to many millions of dollars from illegal bets. 

Meanwhile, the bar was held up by a couple of bad guys who took all the cash in the register, and despite their potential bonanza, the Chechens want the money back.  Or else … and they have some violently persuasive methods of or-elsin.

Bob, Marv, Nadia and a Boston detective who is convinced that Bob is somehow implicated in something criminal, though he's not sure what, move the action forward, along with Rocco, the pup.  Various psychopaths drift in and violently out again.  It's a bleak tale and an edgy read, with a number of Lehane's signature twists and turns.

It's a quirky love story, as well as a crime novel, and I loved it.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Dennis Lehane was born and raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts.. Since his first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award, he’s published nine more novels since then. Lehane was a staff writer for HBO’s The Wire, and is a writer/producer on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He has taught fiction and literature at the Harvard Extension School, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and Tufts University.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Mr. Lehane worked as a counsellor with mentally handicapped and abused children, waited tables, parked cars, drove limos, worked in bookstores, and loaded tractor-trailers. He and his wife and children divide their time between Boston and Los Angeles.


Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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