Dennis Lehane is probably best known for his novel Mystic River and from what I understand from other reviews, he returns to Boston where the Chechen Mob runs the street and the bars:
Bob Saginowskiis a lonely bartender at his cousin's bar really just looking to for something to live for. When he rescues an abandoned and abused puppy left in a trash can it opens him up to new life experiences and something to live for. Bob has some secrets though, the bar where he works at used to be his cousin's bar but it is now owned by the Chechen mafia and when the bar is robbed one night it is up to Bob and Marv to make sure that they get the money back, and keep the police at bay. Bob just wants to have a regular life and has found some things to live for, but can he keep them, the mafia is known to take drastic measures in order to ensure that they get their money.
This is the first book that I have read by Lehane and I was really impressed with his writing style and how he laid out the plot in this story and how his is able to create the neighbourhood that Bob lives in and the players in a very short amount of time. You feel like you are walking the streets with Bob at night, or serving up drinks in the bar with him. I'm not quite sure how to describe this book it is part working for the mob, part trying to be independent and part love story. This book is not about fast action scenes or shoot outs, it is more about the slow burn as you try to put the pieces together of several different puzzles that are occurring at once, which I think is why I liked it so much. All the stories are interconnected somehow and it is really not till near the end that everything seems to come together.
I'm a sucker for books that have animals in it and I’m a sucker for a Man in a book that takes care of an innocent animal, so I was a big fan of Bob. Bob is slow, I think that is the best way to describe him, how he takes and interacts with people just seems a little bit off. He does not have many friends, other than his cousin Marv, and is awkward in social interactions (even as a bartender), but he wants to have someone or something in his life to love but struggles in how to do that. The protection he feels towards Rocco, the pit bull puppy he rescues, is really part of his charm and it is the puppy that not only leads him towards danger but also helps him learn to care for someone else. You can tell that Bob is loyal to a fault even when that loyalty ends him up working for the Mob; I think he is unable to see any way around it as that is the life that he has always known.
Marv is an interesting character; he is really stuck in the past and the Glory days when he used to have respect from people on the street and the Mob. Marv got into some gambling debts and was forced to "sell" his bar to the Chechen Mob to cover his debts and the bar has become a drop point for their cash whenever they want it. You can tell throughout the novel that Marv always wants more but is really unwilling to do anything to get it. Although Marv is supposed to be Bob's friend he often treats him badly and makes him do all the work, as he knows that Bob has no one else and capitalizes on how Loyal Bob really is.
This is the first book that I have read by Lehane and it is not one of his well-known ones. I think if he is able to write this well and keep me invested in a book that was not as popular as his other novels then I need to try to read the rest as well. This book is a quick good easy read, that I found was very entertaining and able to draw me into Bob’s story.
On a side note, this book was also made into a movie (oh how I love Tom Hardy...) also called The Drop (watched it on Netflix so it could still be there) and the movie does a really good job in following the book almost exactly. There are a few additional elements that are left out, but they were not essential to the overall story.