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Showing 1-10 of 879 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,574 reviews
on May 26, 2000
Based upon customer reviews of Dennis LeHane's series of novels featuring detectives Kenzie and Gennaro, I bought all of them at one time and have just finished this series debut. I had not quite finished it last night when I went to bed. After about 30 minutes of wondering what was going to happen, I got up and finished the book in the middle of the night. That's gotta tell you something! I am mesmerized by the characters: the detectives are sharp, quirky, risk-taking folks most of the time; and they surround themselves with a wonderful assortment of cohorts from Bubba the bodyguard to Devin and Oscar the cops. Throw in a sympathetic priest and you have an excellent mix of lovable, if not quite understandable, characters. The story was gripping, terrifying and believable. I couldn't wait to start "Darkness, Take my Hand, " the second in the series, but I did wait until the coffee perked this a.m. A must read, but read the series in order so you don't miss the personal and touching references to the childhoods and personal lives of the heroes!
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on November 24, 2001
Reading is my passion. I have books piled up all over my room just waiting to be read. Although I enjoy most books, I read so many of them that often, by the time I'm halfway into a new one, I have already forgotten most of what I read in the previous book. But there are a handfull of books that made such an impression on me, that their stories stay with me long after I've finished them. Some, I doubt, I will ever forget. Dennis Lehane's "Mystic River" is one of those. I had only read one other Lehane book - "Praying for Rain" - which was a good crime thriller. Mystic River, however, is entirely different. It does involve a murder, but it is so much more than a crime thriller. It is a psychological masterpiece. The main characters, Dave Boyle, Jimmy Marcus, and Sean Devine, grow up as childhood friends. One day Dave suddenly disappears in a car with two men. He returns a changed and damaged child, but what happened while he was gone remains his secret. The book moves ahead twenty-five years. All three have now grown up, having taken completely different paths in life. When Jimmy Marcus' daugher is murdered, the story takes off as Sean, now a homicide detective, takes on the case. But the meat of the story involves the personal demons that haunt all three men, and the effects those demons have on their marriages, families and their lives. This is not a classic whodunit. Lehane does not throw out little tidbits to throw the reader off from guessing who killed Katie, the murdered girl. In fact, so wrapped up in the lives of the three men, their wives and families, that we almost don't care who the murderer really is. There is a lot of darkness in this book as Lehane deftly developes these tragic characters. But the book is not without humor - Lehane's writing is full of dry, acerbic humor. I found myself drawn to every character in the book - as flawed and damaged as they were. No matter what you think has happened, you want to reach out to them, especially Dave, whose live was forever changed that fateful day that he was taken away. This book will appeal to a large audience - for those who love a good mystery, and those who like their books deep, probing the characters' psyches. As I said, this book is still with me, and I suspect it always will be. Do yourself and favor and don't miss this wonderful, deeply moving book. It will make you think about your own life, and how "but for the grace of God go we" makes us realize how fragile our sense of security in our own lives really is. Read it and be moved!
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on March 8, 2017
I was disappointed in aspects of this book.

For one the book jumps around too much. Something unresolved happens and then Lehane jumps away to another character. Several chapters later he comes back. This trick can make a story more suspenseful, but I think his use of it here is overdone.

The second problem was that the story was a bit too predictable. Halfway in I was pretty sure what was going to happen with each character. The rest of the story was just watching these events unwind. I was hoping for some twist that might surprise but none came.

My last problem was with the plot. I thought there would be more motivation for what happens but in the end it was mostly built on an unbelievable amount of coincidences.

Aspects of the book were great, including a lot of the characters and parts of the plot but in the end I was disappointed with how he wraps everything up.
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on January 4, 2014
It was a wonderful book. I read it three times, in fact. I have met the author. He's charming! However, as much as he has been compared to Robert Parker, this book should put an end to that. While some similarities (it took a while before dense me thought Bubba was a Hawk!) exist, they are only that, similarities. Reading this book at some point in the series will show the character development of all of them: Patrick, Angela, Bubba (and his crew of merry misfits), and the rest. Much back story about Patrick, you'll have to wait a bit for the full back story on Angela and a LONG while for Bubba, but truly worth it. You don't HAVE to read this book to enjoy the rest of the series, but at some point, you should. I literally had tears in my eyes at the end, and that NEVER happens in a hard-boiled crime mystery. Dennis Lehane ROCKS!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 11, 2003
To find a great mystery writer is akin to a great bottle of wine for me. Dennis Lehane is one of the best mystery writers around. His stories center around Boston and South Boston is the neighborhood. In "A Drink Before the War" we meet Patrick Kenzie and Anglea Gennaro- a private detective team. Both are locked into their own mysteries- that of abvuse- Patick abuse from his father, a powerful man in his own right. And Angela abuse from her husband. The hint of a relationship is there, but it is subtle and nothing is out in the open.
This mystery opens with a cleaning woman who has stolen papers from an important Boston politico. She asks for assistance and as the storyline deepens- race relations between black and white come to the fore. The streets of Boston are explored and explained. There is violence in this mystery and some of it is not pleasant but somehow opens the mystery to deeper understanding. The writing is superb. This is the beginning of a series exploring Patrick and Angela's relationship and their business partnership. Come along on the journey of Dennis Lehane into the streets and neighborhood of Boston. One of the best writers available- collect all of his books. You will thank me. prisrob
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on July 27, 2014
It seems like the city of Boston is the favorite for sleuth and spy thrillers as of late. Brad Thor used Boston, Robert Parker used it for all the Spenser books plus Jesse Stone books as well, and Bostonian Dennis Lehane makes that city home base for his detective series starring Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. Being the author of the brilliant "Shutter Island" and "Mystic River", I expected a lot from him, but I was very disappointed in "A Drink Before the War". Perhaps it was because it was his first book that I found it clumsily paced, but it came across to me as a poor imitation of Parker's "Spenser" series.
While the story itself wasn't so bad, politics mixing with a lethal gang element and murder, at least in this book Kenzie tries much too hard to be the smartass tough guy Spenser is, and doesn't pull it off. Having a bombshell fellow detective as a partner spices things up but no more so than the ubiquitous Susan Silverman as Spenser's girl and adviser of all things psychological. Even Hawk, one of the most popular sidekicks ever, who works often with Spenser is imitated by a gun nut behemoth who shadows the pair as they try to unravel the puzzle.
I don't enjoy panning books or music, but this book just doesn't have the originality factor working for it at all. I know Lehane has written some fine material, but this first effort was not very good. Parker's "Spenser" debut, "The Godwulf Manuscript" is far superior as far as introducing the character and personality that would become legendary among Parker fans.
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on August 24, 2016
Meet Patrick Kenzie. He's not a trained boxer, or a trained shooter, or really has any experience whatsoever in law enforcement or the military like some of our other famous sleuths. He and his partner Angela Gennaro are licensed private investigators from the working class neighborhood of Dorchester and they are hired by State House politicos Senator Mulkern, Senator Paulson and Representative Vurnan to bring back documents stolen by a State House cleaning woman named Jenna Angeline. Patrick and Angie also find themselves caught in the middle of a gang war that is somehow connected to the so-called "documents" Jenna has.

This story is full of well drawn characters. There's Bubba Rogowski, a gunrunner you do want to mess around with. Devin Amronklin and Oscar Lee, the two police officers in the Anti-Gang Task Force who are overwhelmed and it shows. As someone who was raised and lives in Boston, I like that the book takes place in a setting I'm familiar with. These books are kind of nostalgic in two ways. One is that they take place in the nineties and the second is that are set in a Boston that Lehane grew up with. Boston has changed for both Mr. Lehane and myself.

This isn't your usual private eye story. This isn't Philip Marlowe, Spenser or Carlotta Carlyle. These guys do not have the same kind of experience that most famous sleuths do. But they're just as smart as they'll show you. Almost every single character is well drawn. Even if they're role is small and not as important to the plot. Patrick's voice is definitely original. He longs for the old days while he also embraces progress. He is aware of the problems in his world and he expresses them with a sarcastic and maybe even depressive wit.

Read this book if you like classic private eye stories and Boston, or even if you like well-written and well plotted books with drawn out characters with all their flaws and bruises to show human they are.
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on February 5, 2014
Early Kenzie and Gennaro. Worth reading to catch the flavor of the characters that will appear in later works.

A Congressman's maid has gone missing with some embarrasing pictures and documents.Kenzie and Gennaro are hired to find her and retrieve them. it soon becomes apparant that there are some who would prefer they never see the light of day.

Good story. Better than a lot of stuff on the market now, because of the quality of the writing.
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on June 18, 2015
Dennis Lehane is an author with some gravitas. He is a native son of the Boston area, and his works have been turned into major motion pictures. His prose is much as you have come to expect from the crime writer: terse and to the point. Descriptions of characters are fairly one-dimensional and relationships are forged by strong neighborhood ties. The book is a decent read; Lehane's characters are conflicted but never fully drawn. The lead character is likable enough, but for someone so smitten with his partner, he is certainly not very conscious of her feelings or who she is as a human being. He is more concerned with how she looks in skinny jeans. It is a rather predictable relationship fraught with the familiar trope of a bad marriage she is unable to end despite the domestic abuse she sustains. The racial tensions in the book are fairly common in Boston, but also come across lacking any full complexity of situations. I do respect the character's ambivalence to take sides and his ability to recognize his own prejudices. The plot is lurid, but then that is what he is writing. It seems a little far-fetched, as when a prominent Boston pol wants to help coverup the crimes of a pedophile in his midst. I found it hard to believe an politician wouldn't back as far away from that bad boy as possible, never mind previous connections. In any case, Lehane is a decent writer whose work is interesting in its ability to capture a certain audience clearly interested in the underbelly of politics and police, and for that alone, this is a timely piece of fiction.
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on May 28, 2013
I am not a reader who enjoys violence,and there is a lot of it in this book. That said, I liked this novel. I liked the dialogue, I liked the pace, and I loved how developed the characters were. I think what I loved best, however, was the author's way of describing the love/lust Kenzie has for Gennaro. After reading a lot of women's romance books lately, it was really refreshing to get a guy's perspective on it.
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