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The Drop by Dennis Lehane

November 21, 2017


Midway through this novel, one of the main characters says to his father: “You didn’t tell me, Dad, that the world contained men who beat dogs and left them to die in frigid trashcans, or men who drilled bolts through the feet of other men.” To which the father replies, “I didn’t have to tell you. Cruelty is older than the Bible. Savagery beat its chest in the first human summer and has kept beating it every day since. The worst in men is commonplace. The best is a far rarer thing.” That pretty much sums up the feel of this story. Bleak, gritty, at times cruel.

Lehane can write lavish, sprawling stories as he did with The Given Day and the two period gangster novels that followed, but he is most in his element with gritty crime stories so tightly plotted they read like they’re ready for the screen. Such is the case with The Drop, a story about some small-time bar owner and employees in a Boston bar that’s used as a money-stash for the Chechen mob.

The characters are sentimental at times, shockingly dark at others. As they get pulled more and more into a situation they want nothing to do with, you want to turn away. You know nothing good is going to come out of it, but the world is confined and there’s nowhere for these guys to go. They might as well be in prison.

The Drop is a quick read. A good bet for fans of The Wire or David Benioff’s The 25th Hour. Interestingly, the story started as a short story, was then written as a feature screenplay by Lehane (the movie stars James Gandolfini), then as a novel.

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