Book Review Wednesday: A Drink Before the War (5 stars)

Posted: April 23, 2014 in Book Reviews
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I’ve found a new favorite author: Dennis Lehane. That’s how much I liked this book.

Here’s the blurb:

Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro know their home, rough neighborhoods of South Boston. Their first PI job seems simple – find Jenna, a black cleaner, and confidential state documents she stole. Extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extend from the ghetto to the government. The worst atrocities are closest to home, and committed in the name of love.

This is the first book in a series I’m eager to read the rest of. Lehane doesn’t shirk from tough topics, something I learned reading mystic river, which I’ll write a review on eventually. Considering that, it was surprising how much humor there was in this book.

Patrick, our narrator, is full of snark. But when things get serious, he gets serious too. That about sums up the book. There are lines that made me laugh out loud, lines that made me want to cry, and even lines that were so insightful they made me look at the world a different way.

I went into this steeling myself against the difficult topics like child prostitution I knew would be brought up, but they didn’t appear until a good chunk of the way into the book which I thought was a good move. It let me get to know the characters a bit more before you get the punch in the gut that brings that topic into play. So if you’re a bit afraid of the entire book being full of that issue, don’t. When it comes up it does get a bit graphic, but it doesn’t appear until a good third of the way in, and I think was treated respectfully.

The thing I loved most about this book was the relationship between Patrick and Angie. They were just so close, like finishing sentences type of close. They seemed to know each other better than they knew themselves. There’s one moment when they get in an argument, and Angie knows just what to say to poke the deepest most vulnerable part of Patrick, and Patrick immediately does the same to her. And then a couple minutes later they brush it all away and are best friends again. To me, that’s the definition of true friendship. You know each other inside and out, including the parts you don’t want to admit. No one can destroy you as easily as your best friend can, and sometimes you fight, but you always make up again.

And I can’t write a review on this book without mentioning Bubba. He’s been their friend for a long, long time, and he hates just about everyone but them. He was awesome, just about the cutest giant gun toting psychopath ever. There were times when I honestly didn’t know whether to grin at his loyalty to his friends, or be very, very afraid.

The plot was good. Twisty enough to be enjoyable. There was at least one big twist in there I didn’t see coming, which is always a neat thing. Not anything that made me throw up my hands and go ‘oh my god,’ but a decent amount of twists.

My opinion: if you like mysteries, try this one. I loved it so much I’m thinking of buying the next one, even though I have over a hundred books I already have access to that I really should read first.

Link to more reviews on this book:


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