March 4, 2011

Adult Readers' Advisory Annotation #4: Mystery

Title: A Drink Before the War
Author: Dennis Lehane 
Publisher: Avon Books 
Publication Date: 1996 (first published 1994) 
Page Count: 301 
ISBN: 0380726238 

Genre: Mystery 
Source: Purchased book

Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Kennaro are hired by powerful politicians to find a missing cleaning woman who allegedly stole some important confidential documents. It sounds like routine job at first, but a simple job soon turns deadly as Patrick and Angela find themselves caught up in a war between two gangs with connections to the corrupt politicians. 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for about two years, and I’m glad I finally picked it up and gave it a chance! It is a compelling read in many ways. Lehane creates a vivid setting and shows us the grittier side of Boston’s neighborhoods with fascinating detail. It really brings blue-collar Boston to life. The violence is graphic, so this book is not for the faint of heart. However, while the tone may be dark, Patrick still manages to have a sense of humor in even the worst of situations. I was surprised to find myself laughing aloud a few times while reading. 

The characters are well-developed and relatable. The author manages to keep the fast-paced action going while simultaneously weaving in background details about Patrick’s past experiences with a violent father and Angela’s tumultuous relationship with her abusive husband. The connection between Patrick and Angela is strong, and their concern for one another is touching. A Drink Before the War is the first book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series, and I look forward to finding out what happens to the characters next. 


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