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Drink Before The War [Mass Market Paperback]

Dennis Lehane
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback, July 1 1996 --  

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
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book Feb. 13 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Overall Great Feb. 7 2014
If you like mystery you will love this book. Well written and very engaging especially if you enjoyed his movies
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars about on par with a made-for-tv movie May 21 2004
I discovered Lehane by way of the film "Mystic River," and was happy to see that this author had several titles in print. I chose "A Drink Before the War" as a starting point more or less at random. I read the book over a couple of days while on vacation.
I found it pretty disappointing in several respects. Despite the fact that the book is set in Boston, and written by a native Bostonian, it lacks much in the way of an organic sense of place. The action occurs in various areas of Boston, but it felt more like I was watching a slide show of the city rather than spending time with characters in their native habitat.
Another weakness is that Lehane often fails to obey the dictum to show and not simply tell. For example, much is made of an impending war between rival gangs, whose leaders are an estranged father and son pair. Then the war drama unfolds primarily "offscreen" and we are merely told that one of them has won the war by virtue of surprising prowess as a tactician. Contrast this to books such as "The Godfather" or "Day of the Jackal" which are each full of little details of setting and character that seem to have reached the page via personal recollection by an eyewitness.
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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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By dr_sasp
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 seems.
With their superior detection skills, tracing the woman comes relatively easily: delivering her and the documents and untangling the maelstrom that erupts once they find her are much more complicated. Thrown into a scenario involving gang war, drugs, child abuse and blackmail they can only rely on their wits and wit, and a friendly sociopath, to get them out in one piece. Along the way the pair have to battle their personal demons of unrequited lust, a violent spouse and a dead but not forgotten abusive father in a frantic race to emerge with their lives intact, but not without blood on their hands.
Written with style and wit, a solid, fast-moving plot and an eye for interesting supporting characters, this first in the Kenzie and Gennaro series proves that our heros are two to watch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Writer July 10 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dennis Lehane is my new favorite author. Having previously read Shutter Island and seen the movie Mystic River, drew me in. A Drink Before the War- is one of the best first author books I have read. Very good characters will keep you up nights reading this one. I have ordered the sequels to this series, having enjoyed this one. Keep up the good work.
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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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