Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

First Sentence: Bob found the dog two days after Christmas, the neighborhood gone quiet in the cold, hungover and gas-bloated.

Bob Saginowsk's life revolves between the house in which he grew up, the Catholic Church he has always attended, and the bar in which he works which is now owned by Chechen mobsters, and managed by his cousin Marv. Things change when he rescues a small dog and meets Nadia. Bob's life is looking up until two gunmen walk into the bar.

Lehane has a way of writing that draws you into his world. It is a world of people few of us know but recognize they are real. Bob is a character who tugs at your heart, while Marv, his cousin, who once owned the bar and is desperately trying to succeed at something again--"a successful man could hide his past, but an unsuccessful man spent the rest of his life trying not to drown in his."

The best writers are those whose phrases make one stop and consider, perhaps even reread. One doesn't do this for clarity, but out of consideration for what was said. One wants to make note of them to share them with others. Yet Lehane's world is a harsh one filled with violence and cruelty—"Cruelty is older than the Bible. Savagery best its chest in the first human summer and has kept beating it every day since." Even so, it's not unrelenting. There are elements of self-realization and bright spots with Nadia, a puppy, and surprisingly, Detective Evandro Torres, the cop, who is still trying to solve a ten-year-old cold case.

How does one quantify Lehane's writing? It is brutal but somehow impersonal; detached so one doesn't feel shocked by it. He surprises one but makes one feel they should have seen it coming. He is dark and not for everyone, but those who do read him cannot help but feel slightly in awe.

"The Drop" began life as a short story, became a screenplay, and is now a short novel. One need not know any of that to appreciate the quality, the level of suspense, the twists, particularly at the end.

THE DROP (NoirCrime-Bob Saginowski-Boston-Contemp) Ex
Lehane, Dennis – Standalone
William Morrow, 2014, 208 pp.

1 comment:

  1. You're right, I think, that Lehane's writing doesn't pull punches. But he isn't gratuitous, either, and I think he chooses his words carefully. He creates interesting characters, too, that you're curious about, even if they're unsympathetic. And his pacing and timing work well.