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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
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...
Published on 14 Sep 2001 by Untouchable

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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... ?
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...
Published on 16 May 2009 by bressons_puddle


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 14 Sep 2001
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning for Dennis Lehae, 13 Sep 2003
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
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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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 review is from: A Drink Before The War (Paperback)
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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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
This review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
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 review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Parker influence, but a deeper insight, 7 July 2003
By 
Neal C. Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
There indeed is some Robert B. Parker style here, but Lehane doesn't stop there, and is not limited by that style, but goes beyond it into deeper looks into tortured souls. Certainly, the main character, Kenzie, had a more miserable childhood than did Spenser. And his partner, Gennaro, is going through her particular version of Hell which is one Susan Silverman didn't have to put up with.
Like Spenser, Kenzie has his hangups, but his far more sordid childhood history influences his hangups, and he has no psychologist girl friend to be his shrink, so he has to face them by himself. And this gives the novel a lot of its weight.
There should also be something said about Lehane's perspective on racial relations.
There are a number of black characters in the book, very unlike from each other. There are also a number of characters who use derogatory terms against blacks, and Lehane characterizes these people by the words they use in many cases. A reader who gives the book a quick read might misunderstand the author's perspective. But Lehane does deliver a message that says people are people, individual people. The prejudices of these people say something about the individual bearing such prejudices.
Yet, Lehane also suggests, especially in one of the climactic scenes, that we are all contaminated by the aura of prejudice. In one telling sequence, the main character, Kenzie, succumbs to the poison of prejudice in his thinking. Fortunately, he shakes off the effects of this poison.
So what I am saying to those who read this book, especially Afro-Americans, is to not read the book too quickly, and to realize that although some of the author's characters use ugly language, the author is definitely not in love with all of his characters and shows that in his narration. In fact, he is saying something about those particular characters if you read carefully enough to hear what he says.
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5.0 out of 5 stars But where does the potential buyer look for a good read, a trade off between authenticity, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: A Drink Before The War (Paperback)
Bookshops are bulging with police fiction from all over the world, each with its own particular style. There are heroes, anti-heroes male and female some of whom have been immortalised on television. But where does the potential buyer look for a good read, a trade off between authenticity, realism and a stonking unputdownable storyteller. Dennis Lehane is perhaps not one of the most fashionable authors and yet this book is riveting. Deftly he weaves a plausible plotline, action and yes, high quality writing with a kind of philosophical approach that actually makes the reader stop and think. Having said that you still cannot put it down because Lehane draws you into the atmos like a Greek syren. Buy it, fans of crime fiction behold - a great writer.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like the title suggests, an explosive story!, 14 Aug 2003
This review is from: A Drink Before the War (Paperback)
I first discovered Dennis Lehane passing a book display and like most people i'm sure i read the blurb, found it appealing, bought it, took it home and foolishly let it gather dust. If i had known what i was missing out on, the book wouldn't have made it to the shelf.
Never have i read a book so unlike the general idea of crime stories.
The general idea of the crime novel that i have experienced so far with the likes of Tess Gerristsen, Jonathan Kellerman, and James Patterson is that they have a good story going but theres a certain something missing that makes the plot 'zoom' along as i like it.
Dennis smacks it straight on the nail. I won't give away any part of the plot but there are circumstances in which Kenzie may be talking to someone he doens't like and they way he does it makes me rearrange my sitting position so that i can read on more and more.
Another edge that he has is with psychotic Bubba Rogowski. You
just have to love the fact the two main characters (whom you warm to straight away as they have such a jovial sense of manner around them)have someone like Bubba as their friend. Dennis never tells you where Bubba is when Kenzie and Gennero are in a tough situation which leaves you wondering all the time 'where is he going to come out from?'
With the humour and the mad acts of Bubba's lifestyle to keep you going, you also have the story to go with it!
A drink before the war has just the impact you expect with the word 'war' involved...explosive gunfights, intimidating conversations with madmen, twists that make you dizzy...its like a present of all the things you love in a novel crammed into one! The fact that it's Dennis's first novel as well should be enough to impress from the offset.
But before i give Dennis too much adulation, he does have one flaw. From reaading the parts where he describes the locations of Boston you can tell he loves the place for his descriptions do go on a bit leaving you wanting to say in a slightly annoyed tone 'move on please!'
But other than that meagre flaw, his work it supberb. I tried to read it slowly so that i didn't finish it so soon!
As for the five stars, i simply find no vice in Dennis's style to merit any less, enjoy this and his others as his humouress and relentlessly explosive plot twists, never relent!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boston Greene and the investigation of a missing person, 25 Aug 2012
By 
Aidan J. McQuade (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: A Drink Before The War (Paperback)
Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are Boston private investigators operating out of an office in a church belfry in Dorchester. They get hired to undertake a seemingly easy case from three Massachusetts politicians: find a former cleaning woman who has stolen some sensitive documents from them. Of course the case turns out to be considerably less straightforward and vastly more dangerous than it initially appears.

This is the first of the celebrated Kenzie/Gennaro series and its voice, and that of Patrick, the narrator, is noticeably younger, certainly more wise-ass, that later novels of this series and later of Lehane's other novels. In spite of this the novel offers a serious consideration of racial tensions in the Boston of the early 1990s in the guise of a very satisfying crime thriller. Typical of Lehane's work it is run through with a strong sense of place and a Greene Catholic sensibility contemplating right, wrong and trying to discern the lesser of the evils in the midst of the routinised violence of poverty and criminal activity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, 17 Feb 2012
This review is from: A Drink Before The War (Paperback)
I came upon this after reading Shutter Island and I was expecting so much more. However, I stuck with it and I did enjoy it enough to buy the rest of the Kenzie/Gremmaro series. It's a great introduction to the series, I just think it's not on the same level as Shutter Island was.
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A Drink Before The War
A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane (Paperback - 1 Sep 2006)
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