Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dennis Lehane's A Drink Before the War

Dennis Lehane creates a rough world for this first in the "Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro" series. It's a world of hard and fast racism, animosity and contempt, where licentiousness is a way of life. It's not a pleasant place. In all of that however, Lehane manages to put two gratifying and amusingly cynical private investigators to solve the problems in the world.

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired by a sycophantic politician to find a missing office cleaning woman and some "documents" she is accused of stealing. However, they quickly find out it's not that black and white when Kenzie is almost beat to death on the way home, and the next day a violent gang war breaks out. As the case progresses, the P.I's start to wonder why these politicians are so interested in the missing woman and a seemingly innocuous picture she hands them, and what it has to do with the upcoming street terrorism bill waiting to be voted on in the senate. As they wade through all of the pretense, they quickly see there is a lot more going on than they were led to believe, and none of it is pretty.

The story is hard, and impossible to believe in the way that those of us who live in a secure and relatively sedate world don't understand, but is not without meaning or a valid point...a point well made I thought.

A Drink Before the War

(Currently about to start Laurie R. King's A Monstrous Regiment of Women)

3 comments:

seana said...

Lehane is one of my favorites, and the Kenzie/Gennaro partnership is the real reason for this, despite the fact that Lehane has frankly called these early works potboilers. I think they're pretty strong and so was gratified that he has finally written a 'final' one, which comes out this fall. I won't give any of it away here--you should read the others first if you decide to continue with the series.

Glenna said...

I wondered if the series was finished. I do plan on reading more of them because I want to see where Kenzie and Gennaro's relationship goes. I like the interaction between the two and I do think it's part of the charm of the story. I also like how the author didn't mince words when it came down to it. The story though was pretty harsh, even if it did serve a purpose.

I have to say, I was about to ask for my ideas on who to read, when I realized I have my hands more than full with all of these series :)

seana said...

Well, in a way it's more of an afterword than an end. A significant period of time has lapsed since he wrote the prior one.

Oh, yeah--it is so easy to be overwhelmed by the to be read pile!