Review #47: A Drink Before War by Dennis Lehane
Somehow the first in the Kenzie/Gennaro series escaped my attention. I found this little gem at a local bookstore for only $5. Love getting real books by my favorite authors at great prices! I have absolutely no idea how I have read all the books in this series, except this one. Very odd.
In A Drink Before War, we meet Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro for the first time. The two private investigators, working out of a church bell tower in Dorchester, are hired by a pair of local government officials to find a black cleaning lady seemingly because she took some important government documents before randomly disappearing. Of course, being a Lehane novel, nothing is as it seems and we are treated to the unraveling of a government cover-up of the most heinous of crimes. While doing this, Patrick and Angie also run afoul of local Dorchester gang leaders who have no qualms about trying to kill off our intrepid investigators.
I have previously gushed about my love for all writings Dennis Lehane here, so I won’t go into that again. Needless to say, I feel very similarly towards this book. For a debut in this series (written in the 1990s), this is an exceedingly strong tale. Patrick and Angie are instantly fleshed out as full characters, with character development occuring over the course of the book. More interestingly though, is Lehane’s take on race relations. Often times race relations are only central to stories set in the South, but not so here. Lehane offers an in-depth and poignant view of the clash of races in Dorchester — an area made up of blue collar whites (often Irish-American), and areas of deep poverty, primarily populated by black and Hispanic individuals. His take on this is raw and real, and take the book to a deeper level than the typical crime thriller. This is the beauty of a Lehane novel, it is never as simple as what you think it will be, and will challenge you to look at your own biases and prejudices. Needless to say, I really loved this book and am tempted to go back and re-read more Kenzie/Gennaro books.