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Drink Before The War [Mass Market Paperback]

Dennis Lehane
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback, July 1 1996 --  
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Book Description

July 1 1996 Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro Novels

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.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Library Journal

In this first novel, set in Boston, violence swirls around narrator Patrick Kenzie and partner Angleo Gennaro. This intrepid investigative duo are hired by two state senators to locate a black cleaning woman who filched several sensitive "documents." They find her easily enough, but the items she took, which point to child prostitution and political corruption, cause gang warfare and murder. Lehane's minimal use of literary references helps establish character, as do his frequent allusions to child abuse and wife battering. Rough and tumble action for a high energy, likable pair.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Gritty July 4 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Drink Before The War is an exciting and thrilling novel which fuses so many different elements; crime, violence, romance and humour. I read the book really quickly because it was so compelling and found myself laughing out loud at the one-liners.
The main character Patrick Kenzie tells the story in first person narrative. He gets more and more interesting and complex as the book progresses, and the insights into his childhood were fantastic. This book is the start of the Kenzie/Gennaro series, and it really is very promising. I've already read the last in the series - Prayers for Rain, and I can't wait to read the others to see what happens to them in between.
I thought Angie Gennaro, Patrick's PI partner and unrequited (?) love, was fantastic. Other reviews have commented that the sparks between them didn't fly, but I feel the exact opposite. I thought the romance between them was realistic and great. The part near the end where they kiss after the bomb scare was really touching. There was one point where Patrick says 'At that moment, I think I knew what love was', when Angie smiled at him. Perfect :-)
Overall this is a fantastic book which is witty and gritty. From a personal perspective, I was a little disturbed by just how violent it was sometimes. One particular scene where Patrick and Angie listen to someone being tortured on a cassette recording was particularly horrific. On reflection I think the book needed some of this violence to justify the lengths that Patrick and Angie go to later on, and to show the reader how bad the situation in the neighbourhood really was. In other words, the violence was not gratuitous, but I didn't like it either. I would recommend this to those who want to read down-to-earth crime and have a good laugh at the same time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 6 2004
I became a fan of this author after reading Mystic River. Looking for more I then read Prayers for Rain, which is the most recent in the Kenzie-Gennaro series. Liking it (but not in the Mystic River class) I figured I should go back to the first in the series and work my way forward. Frankly, I found this effort to be disappointing and not up to the standards that the author is capable of.
Kenzie and Gennaro are big into the wise cracks and dark humor, but the matter they are dealing with is both serious and deadly. Both are in a position to be killed in the book, yet the yuks and remarks keep flowing along with a lot of very violent action, including the cold blooded murder of a gang leader who truly deserved it - by Kenzie and Gennaro.
There is some telling social commentary about the type of justice that one gets in Boston based upon skin color and a fairly accurate description of the kind of politicians who populate the Golden Dome on Beacon Hill. There is also a pretty good puzzle to be solved, but the way the story is told didn't ring true to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (4 1/2) The Sins of the Fathers Feb. 3 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dennis Lehane is that rare author who manages to combines the ability of a masterful wordsmith with interesting plots and storylines that raise significant issues. I first read SHUTTER ISLAND (review 5/7/03) and was so blown away by the conclusion that I immediately decided to read more of his work. I next chose MYSTIC RIVER given the wonderful reviews that it generated; while it fully confirmed his incredible talents as an author, it was so unrelenting dark and depressing that I literally had trouble completing the book (review 6/27/03). My conclusion was that Lehane's view of the human experience (at least in regard to the subjects of his novels) could almost be summarized by the well known admonition "abandon hope all ye who enter here". I recently decided that I would attempt to read his acclaimed debut novel A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR since I am an avid reader of the genre (detective series). I knew it was the first of five volumes in a series with Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro as the central characters, and I was interested in reading his original work in order to see how his style and talents had evolved since then. I am very glad that I decided not to abandon his books after MYSTIC RIVER, since I found this a wonderful read despite my reservations described later in this review.
This is a dark story involving a group of Boston politicos who hire Patrick Kenzie and his associate and high school friend Angela Gennaro to retrieve some documents purportedly stolen by a cleaning woman who has subsequently disappeared.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
For a first novel, this one truly delivers the goods. Few veteran writers have produced tenth novels as polished and as gripping as this one. The characters are all very well drawn, the situation well developed, and the complex situation resolved in satisfying fashion. My lone complaint is that the sexual chemistry between Kenzie and Gennaro seems forced in this one. Not all writers handle all aspects of a tale equally well. Lehane excels at violence, darkness, and suspense, not romance.
One of the great things about this book is the almost tactile feel you get for Boston. One of the complaints that I have had with Robert Parker is that his Boston doesn't feel all that uniquely Boston. Substitute other street and place names, and you could have Chicago or Detroit or Philadelphia, or wherever. But Lehane absolutely nails the local scenery in Boston, the attitudes of locals in the neighborhoods.
Occasionally you will see blurbs describing Lehane as the heir to Hammett or Chandler, but this does a tremendous disservice to all three. Lehane writes in no way like either of those two. He does not possess either's scintillating prose style, nor does he structure his stories in anything like the way that they did. The true comparison is with the third master of the American hardboiled detective story: Ross MacDonald. In nearly all of his novels, MacDonald works on a Biblical theme: "The sins of the fathers will be visited unto the second and third generations." In a typical MacDonald plot, someone dies or is abducted or commits a crime, and as he uncovers the evidence he learns that the root cause lies fifteen or twenty or even thirty years in the past.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 29 days ago by Sandra
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Well written and enterntaining. One book I had to finish as soon as I started reading the book. Dennis Lehane is a writter worth reading.
Published 9 months ago by Marlyne Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall Great
If you like mystery you will love this book. Well written and very engaging especially if you enjoyed his movies
Published 9 months ago by Patrick Burns
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut for guttsy and witty detective duo
Set a seemingly simple find-and-deliver task by odious politicians, eminently likeable private investigator duo Kenzie and Gennaro have more on their hands than it first... Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by dr_sasp
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Writer
Dennis Lehane is my new favorite author. Having previously read Shutter Island and seen the movie Mystic River, drew me in. Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by D. McCarthy
2.0 out of 5 stars about on par with a made-for-tv movie
I discovered Lehane by way of the film "Mystic River," and was happy to see that this author had several titles in print. Read more
Published on May 21 2004 by Alexanderplatz
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Truly a fantastic debut. I picked up this book from the library because Mystic River wasn't in. I figured I'd get a taste of Lehane's writing. What I got was a feast of a book. Read more
Published on May 11 2004 by Michael Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!!
I really enjoyed this book. It is one of the few books I have read lately that I couldn't put down. I enjoyed several things: The relationship between Angie and Pat. Read more
Published on May 4 2004 by Kel
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read......Great Story
I must say that I enjoyed how Lehane made his characters so down to earth. That is what made that book. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by yessca
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special
I don't get the hoopla over this one. It didn't sustain my interest, but I don't like to stop reading a book halfway through so I finished it. Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by bookworm
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