Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Drop

This is a very good short novel (206 pages) by Dennis Lehane.  In an interview I heard after I finished reading, Lehane said that the book was originally a short story. He must have expanded the story for the book or the short story was a long one. 

The book is about a bartender, Bob, from South Boston and his cousin. The cousin, Cousin Marv “owns” a bar called, appropriately, Cousin Marv’s.  Problem is that  Cousin Marv does not actually own the bar as he once did because some east European tough guys pushed him out, now own it, and use it as a place to drop their illegal proceeds during the wee hours of the morning, and then pick up the money the next day.  Bob the bartender is a lonely loser who gets the picture but seems essentially innocent.   

The novel is a mystery as well as a story about character.  It is well written with very good hints dropped here and there that you have to remember or else you will have to go back and flip pages as the plot, well, thickens.  In addition to Bob and Cousin Marv, there are interesting other characters who are important to the story.  These folks do not exist in my orbit but seem to be real enough to be in someone’s.  I believe these people exist, and I believe the events in this book could have taken place, even though I have never personally known people like this.  

I read when I finished the book that the movie version of the book was set in Brooklyn not in Boston.  The trailers from that movie are very consistent otherwise with the book, although the guy who plays Bob is far more good looking than the way he is depicted in the novel as is the love interest. Even the dog that is central to the story seems more benign. James Gandofini plays Cousin Marv and that look for Marv is what I imagined when I read the story.

Easy to read, short but nuanced.  Unless you are offended by language--because it is there aplenty, I recommend the book.  If you have a day or two off and have nothing much else to do, you can knock this off in no time and have it hang around in your head for a few more days.  I took the movie out of the library and look forward to seeing if the rest of the movie, like the trailers, stay true to the story. 

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