With novels like Mystic River and Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane has dramatically altered the landscape of the crime thriller—while boldly overstepping the boundaries that have long separated mystery from literature. Now two of his sensational early novels have been combined in a single volume—two gritty and mesmerizing masterworks of suspense featuring the private eye duo of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro—brilliantly showcasing the unique voice and dark, exhilarating vision of a crime fiction phenomenon.
©1994 Dennis Lehane (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
I read from every category but intelligent mysteries short on gore and long on interesting characters are my favourite.
I stole my headline from another poster as it seemed so apt and I am hopeless at thinking of catchy headlines.
And rather than reiterate what other reviewers have said, I'll give my general impressions. It's definitely a thriller (not a mystery) that held my interest from the beginning to the end. The narrator, Jonathan Davies, has a quiet laconic delivery. There were times when I thought it was perfect and other times I found it just a bit affected, rather like Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti western days.
And that is the problem that I have with this book. I know nothing of Boston at the period of time nor of gang warfare so I can't tell if I am terribly naive or if some the characters border on cartoonish in their utter depravity. To say that Lehane's vision is dark is understatement. There is no hope, no redemption, nothing good in this world, just characters exploring pain and unrelenting violence.
I can't say that I enjoyed the book. It was a gripping story but I felt like I needed a long hot shower afterward. It has stuck with me for some days after and not in a good way. For those readers who, like me, have a low tolerance threshold for things like this, be forewarned that there is some horrifying child abuse in the story.
In the grit and beauty of his storytelling, as well as the art and craft of his writing, author Dennis Lehane never ceases to awe me as one of the truly masterful.
Now, years after reading Lehane's hardcover books, I've begun to reexplore them via audiobook. What a splendid surprise and treat to discover that narrator Jonathan Davis (with whom I was unfamiliar) parallels and complements Lehane in quality.
Dennis Lehane's books aren't alway easy books to read due to the sensitive subject matter but his books are always good and worth reading. I really enjoyed this first installment in the Kenzie & Gennaro series and will be reading/listening to the next one. The narrator, Jonathan Davis, did an excellent job bringing these characters to life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is the first in a series on private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. There is a lot of thrilling action in this story set in Boston. I liked the romantic tension between the two main characters but also liked how this did not take a way from the adventure of the story.
The narrator, Jonathan Davis, did a great job and I am definitely going to buy the next book in the series.
This book was published in 1994 -- the "war" in question was a race war, which is kind of interesting, because amazingly or not, all the racial issues Lehane highlights are even worse now than they were then. So in that sense, it's an interesting listen. Nothing changes so much as it remains the same.
As for anything else, it just didn't interest me much this time around -- I was off with the fairies time after time, and I'd have to backtrack. I first read this book shortly after it came out, then again a few years ago, not necessarily by choice -- I was living overseas, and would read virtually anything I could get my hands on, so long as it was printed in English. I don't remember being deeply touched or moved or inspired -- let alone "thrilled" or even kept in suspense -- either time.
That didn't change. It just doesn't ring my bells. Listening did give it one new dimension -- the poetic quality of Lehane's writing stands out. But since I don't much value poetry (sorry, just not my thing) and since much of the book deals with still-unresolved racial issues and situations, I didn't care for it much this time either.
Good to know. Now there won't be a fourth read, not in any form.
Say something about yourself!
Superb debut to this series. This is the first Lehane novel for me, but will not remain so. The depth of character, witty yet realistic dialogue, and storytelling that excels in every way have me downloading lehane novels en masse.
If there were two stories as the description said. I finally googled and discovered the promise of two books is from the lazy use of the description from a one-off Avon print edition that bundled his first two books: this one and Darkness Take My Hand. http://www.amazon.com/Drink-Before-Darkness-Take-Hand/dp/006117226X
Out of context the description makes it appear this is either an interesting new edition or two novellas combined into a longer volume. None of the above, just annoying human oversight when cataloging the title. I guess.
The story is good and the narration is good. Some glimpses of the masterful writer Lehane became. The one star is purely for the description which compelled me to pay for this instead of borrowing it from the library (it's a 20 yr old thriller after all--not the great American novel).
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
I was given an audio disc of Dennis Lahane's "Prayers For Rain" where I met Angela Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie. Note the order. Patrick is the story teller, but slowly and subtly Lehane pulls Angie to the top of this ensemble cast. "Prayers" gave me an appetite to start the series from the beginning... And it's important and rewarding to read this powerful series from that beginning with "A Drink Before the War". The characters change (note I don't write, "grow"} as Lehane imagines their interaction with the darkness which coats them... like a dank back-Boston alley at three in the morning.
Lehane's a great writer and Jonathan Davis a great actor. Their collaboration's a note perfect study of existential issues... the great conundrums. What's life's mission? Agnostics? Ideological drives? Race? Gender? Greed? Love? The main characters, and many of the minor ones are complex. And like a good teacher, Lehane leaves us with more questions than answers... but a methodology for examining them... which is the essence of critical thought.
But HEY! All of that deep stuff's easily navigated inside of the Lehane puzzle stories. Stores which may or may not be the reason that I've now read this entire series... Oh that and the fact that Angie Gennaro's reluctant gunslinging might maker her the sexiest PI working today's mystery world.
The narrator and the story. You get to know the characters, and the protagonists are likeable even if a bit flawed due to the calamities of life -> much of the underlying theme of the book is about the way things are and how they effect us. Great suspense and story.
Yes. Lost of twists and turns. And not a bit of
My negatives were that it preached a bit much about the unfairness of racism. The points were well made - just overdone and a little out of context. This didn't get in the way of my enjoyment too much.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
Excellent, suspenseful beginning to the series. Lehane was able to create magic mojo between partners Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro from the start, for a super 1-2 Irish-Italian P.I. punch, taking it to the Boston streets, dodging bullets, brawn and barbs from 2 black street gangs and some powerful politicians.
This is a close 2d in the series to #4 "Gone Girl." I have criticized a couple of the other (particularly, #3) in the series as being too implausible and feeling forced. While the plot in #1 could be seen by some as far-fetched, it all seemed real and true to me.
A highly enjoyable potboiler on the backstreets of Beantown.
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