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A Drink Before the War [Hardcover]

Dennis Lehane
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 1994

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are tough private investigators who know the blue-collar neighbourhoods and ghettos of Boston's Dorchester section as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential Statehouse documents.

But finding Jenna proves easy compared to staying alive. The investigation escalates, uncovering a web of corruption extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of state government.

With slick, hip dialogue and a lyrical narrative pocked by explosions of violence, A Drink Before the War confronts a city in which institutionalized bigotry and corruption are often the norm, and the true nature of 'racial incidents' is rarely clear. Dennis Lehane's remarkable debut is at once a pulsating crime thriller and a mirror of our world, one in which the worst human horrors are found closest to home, and the most vicious obscenities are committed in the name of love.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harcourt (Nov 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015100093X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151000937
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,065,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dennis Lehane grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston's inner-city. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a counsellor with mentally handicapped and abused children, waited tables, parked cars, drove limos, worked in bookstores, and loaded tractor-trailers. His one regret is that no one ever gave him a chance to tend bar. He has an MFA from Florida International University, and is the writer-in-residence at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida, where he runs the Writers in Paradise Writers' Conference. He and his wife divide their time between St. Petersburg and Boston. For more information on Dennis Lehane and his novels, visit his website: www.dennislehanebooks.com.

Product Description


"Hip, and with a plot in overdrive, relentlessly violent and cathartic" (Time Out)

"Truly excellent" (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The first in Lehane's electrifying crime series featuring the duo Kenzie and Gennaro --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 14 Sep 2001
This is Lehane's first book, and what a devastatingly brilliant book it is too. It introduces us to Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro and their private investigation business in their hometown of Boston. The Boston we get to see, though, is the lower working class and slum areas of town. This is a hardboiled thriller to the core. Patrick Kenzie is haunted by memories of his abusive father; Angie Gennaro is married to an abusive husband. Together they have a fantastic chemistry in which they can virtually read each other's minds.
Kenzie and Gennaro are hired by a local Senator to find a black cleaning woman who was in his employ until she disappeared with some important documents. The case is simple, find the woman and return the documents. The woman is found, but from this point on, things start to go wrong, and it's clear that Kenzie and Gennaro haven't been told the whole story. They soon find themselves caught up in a gangland war where survival is looking less and less likely.
The dialogue is witty and sharp, the story is very well paced and the characters are very believable and all too real-life. I have read all the other Kenzie-Gennaro books before this one (shame on me for reading this out of order) and rate it very highly in comparison. In actual fact, it would have been of great benefit if I had have read this book first as it puts into perspective events that occur in the later books.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better to start at the beginning... ? 16 May 2009
This was Lehane's first novel and, as the book introduces his private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, it also became the start of a series. It therefore almost makes sense to start reading Lehane here because readers who come at this book backwards, having first read Mystic River, will probably be slightly disappointed because Mystic River is a much more developed and substantial read.

However, whilst 'A Drink Before The War' is undoubtedly the work of a writer flexing his muscles for bigger and better things to come, it is also worth reading on its own terms because it is a pacey and entertaining thriller with a strong sense of place and character and, although it won't fulfil, it certainly won't disappoint.

In short, this is a very tasty snack rather than a sustaining meal. An undemanding but excellent page turner. Great for a long lazy day and recommended on that basis.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning for Dennis Lehae 13 Sep 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Lehane; it certainly won't be my last! 28 April 2000
Dennis Lehane's first book, "A Drink Before The War" is a really startling debut into thriller crime fiction. It's not that surprising if a first book is ever so slightly hesitant, perhaps because an author is feeling his way. That doesn't happen in "A Drink Before The War" - it's completely into its stride from just about the first page. I was expecting (and, to be honest, hoping) for the laid-back humour of Robert Crais and, to be sure, it was there but mostly subdued. No matter though; the story got up to speed within a page or two and from then on it didn't let up. Even the occasional and brief paragraph of philosophy, as Lehane stares moodily at American life, doesn't slow things up. If I have a mild complaint at all, it's founded on the relentlessly accurate (I think) description of Boston's highways and byways as private investigators Kenzie and Gennaro move around. For anyone living in Boston, or even slightly familiar with the city, the realism must be rewarding. Sadly, I've never been there but I certainly felt I had after I'd finished reading. Which means, I suppose, that the descriptions did just what they were supposed to do - pull me into the story. "A Drink Before The War" is a great read and well worth it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily Good!! 29 Aug 2003
This is the third Lehane novel I have read (and yes, I know it should have been the first!). It is a well paced, witty and sharp and I couldn't put it down. Patrick Kenzie is a PI who always seems to have a "wise ass" comment and together with his partner and long time friend Angie Gennaro are hired to solve various crimes. I have read PI novels before, but most of the main characters are male and, while there is nothing wrong with this, you have to admire Lehane who has developed a gutsy female PI who can kick ass with the best of them. Actually, there are times in the book when her balls are bigger than Kenzie's! Superior stuff, an exceptionally good PI novel. Oh, and by the way - BUBBA ROCKS!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start
There was enough in this book to make me want to read the next one. The characters are interesting enough to keep you going, especially bubba, the plot is fast paced and complex... Read more
Published 2 months ago by bookworm312
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty tale with light-relief humour
Though it took a little while for me to get in to this story, I loved the characters of Patrick and Angie. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Millie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
The under belly of America, a great read, interesting to see the darker side of the USA and the poverty
Published 4 months ago by Helen
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
A Dull book. More words required for a review so here they are. What a silly idea. Don't wont reviews Amazon?
Published 4 months ago by Mr Careful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant crime thriller
This is a brilliant crime thriller by Dennis Lehane, the story is set in the poorer parts of Boston and brought to life by Lehane's writing skills. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jan Patrik SahlstrÝm
5.0 out of 5 stars Lehanne-more Kenzie and Gennaro please!
really enjoyed this for the second time of reading! Love his style of writing-off on tangents then back to the plot!
Published 10 months ago by MR ALAN T HILDITCH
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning....
I have wanted to read Lehane for some time now. So where to begin? Why not at the beginning? And it's a perfectly good place to start. Read more
Published 11 months ago by The Fidget
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank Goodness
I was so disappointed by Gone Baby Gone, luckily I decided to give Lehane 1 more chance! Loved the book, love Kenzie. Smart, witty and a wonderful ride.
Published 14 months ago by The Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
An unbelievably readable book. So much to enjoy - the characterisation was fantastic. You find yourself really caring about the subjects and I could not wait to get on the train... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Stephen Hickman
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read!
I have read a few Denis Lehane books but actually missed this first book in the Kenzie Gennaro series. A great plot, good rounded characters with an obvious chemistry between them. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Catherine Murphy
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