The Drop – Dennis Lehane

When I started downloading The Drop, Dennis Lehane’s latest offering, from NetGalley, I was, I’ll admit, super-excited. He is one of my Top 5 authors when it comes to across the Atlantic. I knew this wasn’t an entirely new offering  – it was originally a film script, penned by Lehane, and this was the novel version of it. As a result, it’s more slimline than his usual novels – I would have been happy with another 150-odd pages, but, as I say, when it comes to Lehane, I’m biased.

But within a couple of pages, something seemed familiar. The novel is in fact an extended version of a short story, which appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, featuring the same basic storyline but with plenty of extra characters, subterfuge, shootings and scheming. Your classic Dennis Lehane, pretty much.

The plot centres on a bar, Cousin Marv’s, run by the eponymous Cousin Marv (who no longer owns the bar since he racked up gambling debts with some scary Chechens, who took the bar as payment,although it retains his name, and most of the community are unaware of this under-the-table deal.) Marv’s cousin Bob – who is a REAL cousin of Marv’s, despite him being called “Cousin Marv” by most of the parish – pretty much runs the bar, with Marv floating about doing not very much, and daydreaming of the day he will catch the break of a lifetime, which will allow him to move from Boston to areas warmer, with a full wallet and surrounded by attractive women. Marv longs for the days when he and Bob – and others – had a “crew”; was a bit of a gangster, with a reputation in the area, with respect – all long gone now the Chechens, for whom life is very cheap, have moved into the area.

Bob is something of a loner, and lives in the same house he was brought up in as an only child by his two adoring, older parents. He tells us he’s no looker, but it’s probably due to the fact that he’s so quiet and shy that he has never had a girlfriend. One night, walking home from the bar, he finds a puppy, obviously beaten, and having been dumped in a rubbish bin, due to be collected the next morning. The owner of the nearest house – and the bin – appears and asks him what he’s up to. Eventually this girl, Nadia, allows him into her home to clean up the dog. Bob asks her, who seems far more knowledgeable and comfortable with the dog, to keep him for a week while he makes up his mind if he’ll be able to cope with a puppy. It also gives Bob a chance to see Nadia again, for whom it is apparent he holds a torch.

Problems for Bob, Nadia and the dog Rocco start when a nasty character from Nadia’s past appears, who was also, coincidentally, Rocco’s original owner. Eric Deeds is a nasty bully, who is feared locally, partly for his foul personality, but more for the local legend that he murdered “Glory Days”, who was last seen going to score weed from Deeds and never seen again. Deeds plays on his reputation as an alleged murderer, and decides Bob doesn’t deserve Nadia’s company – or Rocco’s.

This sets the scene for a novel with armed robbery, a decapitated arm, some double crossing, plenty more double crossing, shocking revelations, and one of the best twists I’ve come across in a crime novel. I knew it was coming, due to having read the short story, but it’s still one of the sweetest twists I’ve had the pleasure to read.

I’m not sure when the film of this comes out, but going by other Lehane film adaptations (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Shutter Island) I doubt it’ll disappoint. As far as I know, Ben Affleck stars (and may well direct, as he directed Gone Baby Gone) with Eva Mendes, and the late James Gandolfini. Go see it, or better still, set a couple of hours by and read the book.

5 out of 5.

Thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK for giving me the opportunity to read this book, via NetGalley, prior to release on 2 September, in exchange for a fair review.


Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading, this weekly meme involves answering three questions:

1) What have you just finished reading?

2) What are you reading now?

3) What do you plan on reading next? Oops

Here’s my responses at Crimeworm:

1) I finished two books at pretty much the same time – Dennis Lehane’s The Drop, and Jonathan Kellerman’s Killer (reviews will follow) It was good to get through some more “gritty” crime fiction after so many female psychological novels – kind of back-to-my-roots after so many “The Next Gone Girl” cover stickers. But don’t worry, I’ll still be reading them – I’ve plenty to get through!

2) Last night, after putting the two above down, I put The Girl Next Door by the incomparable Ruth Rendell on the Kindle. Although I only read a couple of chapters, I must’ve been tired as I was getting irritated at the similarities in the characters’ names. A tiny thing, I know, but it really slows me down as I have to page back and figure out who he/she is – it’s an obsessive thing for me, and particularly bad when you’re reading translated work. I will, as ever, have a paperback on hand for when my Kindle Fire dies a (temporary) death, as it invariably does. It’ll give me a chance to trawl through the stacks. Actually, I’ve Nicci French’s Tuesday’s Gone to finish too, but it won’t take long.

3) This is always a really hard question as I change my mind constantly. I definitely want to tackle Louise Millar’s The Hidden Girl, or John Boyne’ s This House Is Haunted, or FG Cottam’s The Lazarus Prophecy, as I did enjoy the spookiness in Joanna Briscoe’s Touched, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. But Lisa Jewell’s The Third Wife, and the first Russel D McLean, Mothers Of The Disappeared also appeal…

Another thing I’ve just remembered is that the wonderful Sarah Waters’ new novel, The Paying Guests, is out tomorrow, so all my good intentions may well go nowhere, although her novels are such glorious and rare events I take my time over them. A review in The Times suggests it isn’t her best work, but that her fans definitely won’t be disappointed. Oh, the excitement…what books have you just put down? What are you glued to now?And what do you have your eye on next? Share it with us.

Friday Finds

Hosted by Should Be Reading.

These are the books that I’ve added to the stacks, this week, in my case, through NetGalley and shops, but second-hand finds, library lends, friends’ lends, internet buys, gifts or shoplifted books (kidding here, well in my case..!) all qualify.

My first new arrival’s from NetGalley – Pieces Of You by Ella Harper.


The perfect marriage.

A devastating secret.

An impossible choice.

Lucy was always sure of one thing – her future with soulmate Luke. But after eight, long heartbreaking years trying to have a baby, that future is crumbling before her eyes.

When a terrible accident puts Luke in a coma, Lucy is forced to reassess everything she thought she wanted.

Then Stella arrives, a woman Lucy’s never met, but with a secret that will change her world forever.

I’m not 100% sure how well-suited this’ll be to me, but I’ve read so many “marriage with a secret” books recently – some very good – that I couldn’t resist another!

My next is Jane Green’s Saving Grace, again courtesy of NetGalley. I must admit, I’d always dismissed her as fluffy chick-lit, but Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books mentioned she deals with weightier subject matter. As we all know, Cleo’s opinion is, imho, 100% sound.


From the No.1 bestselling author of Tempting Fate and The Accidental Husband comes Jane Green’s stunning new novel about a shattered marriage and a devastating betrayal. A perfect stranger wants her perfect life. Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted in picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson river in New York State.Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth instantly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel side-lined in her home – and her marriage – by this ambitious young woman.Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought?

I rather like the sound of this – yet another “cuckoo in the nest” of a marriage tale. And I figure it’s time I gave Jane Green a chance!

My final find this week is one I purchased: Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook. Had this on my wish list at Amazon since it came out, but spotted it in a bookshop yesterday and snapped it up.


Clive and Martha have been together since they met at University; they have a young daughter, Eliza. Their marriage appears serene and content. But when Eliza’s adored new piano teacher turns out to be a woman from Clive and Martha’s past, the enigmatic Eliot Fox, Clive becomes desperate to keep Eliot – and what she knows – away from his family.

Never Mind Miss Fox is a compelling tale of vengeance, justice and what it really means to make amends.

I read the first few pages on Amazon when it came out, and enjoyed what I read, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it – I’ll let you all know!

Finally, apologies for this being posted a day late – I’ve been using my Kindle, which is very laborious, for typing up, and I fell asleep last night! But Saturday Finds just doesn’t work!


Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading, to take part in this weekly meme, just answer three questions:

1. What have you just finished reading?

2. What are you reading now?

3. What are you going to read next?

Here are my answers:

1. I’ve just finished The Killer Next Door by Alex Harwood, a review of which I will post as soon as I get my act together! I did enjoy this; it rattled along, with good characters, although I did have to suspend disbelief towards the end. I think this is an author who will go on to big things though, as she certainly knows how to tell a story! I’ll say more in my review.

2. I always have at least two books on the go; the Kindle’s poor battery life means I have one on the go on it, plus a “real” book for when the Kindle’s charging. On the Kindle I’m reading The Drop by Dennis Lehane, one of my favourite American authors and perfect for a bit of grit after all the female psychological thrillers I’ve been reading recently (I also love George Pelecanos, James Ellroy, and Michael Connelly.) My real books are Killer by Jonathan Kellerman – yes I was reading that last week; I’m almost finished! I’m also halfway through Nicci French’s Tuesday’s Gone – I know the series is on Thursday now, so I’ve got some catching up to do, but it’s really good so far, with a great female protagonist – although I wouldn’t expect less from Nicci French.

3. I always struggle with this one, as it depends on my mood! In book form I rather fancy Confessions by Kanae Minato, or Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook:

BLURB: Clive and Martha have been together since they met at university; they have a young daughter, Eliza. Their marriage appears serene and content. But when Eliza’s adored new piano teacher turns out to be a woman from Clive and Martha’s past, the enigmatic Eliot Fox, Clive becomes desperate to keep Eliot – and what she knows – away from his family.

On the Kindle, I’m eyeing Sweet Damage by Rebecca James or perhaps Mothers Of The Disappeared by Russel D McLean. But by the time I’m finished with Dennis Lehane, who knows what mood I’ll be in?!


Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading…

To play along, just answer three questions:

1.What are you currently reading?

2.What did you recently finish reading?

3.What do you think you’ll read next?

This is my second bash at this – I think the first time I filled Cleo’s page with my answers!

1. I’m currently moving between two books: 1)The Killer Next Door by Alex Harwood. Obviously I don’t know who the murderer is, but Harwood’s descriptions of streets, people, with nothing in common thrown together, the interaction between them, and London itself, reminds me of Ruth Rendell standalones/Barbara Vine. High praise indeed, I know, but, so far, it’s just only these aspects which chime with Rendell. I very much doubt the denouement could rival such a legend; and 2) Killer by Jonathan Kellerman. This is for when the Kindle batteries are flat, which is a bug bear of mine. A friend lent me a Kellerman in 1995 or so, and I’ve always read each new release – perhaps not quite with the same enthusiasm as before, but I HAVE to know what’s happening with Dr Alex Delaware, Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, Robin, and the pug. Jonathan Kellerman’s clinical knowledge, as a qualified psychologist, makes each novel seem more realistic. I also enjoy his wife, Faye’s, Peter Decker police procedural series, and their son Jesse is also an up-and-coming novelist.

2. The book I’ve most recently finished is Touched by Joanna Briscoe, which I’ve already reviewed, and hugely enjoyed.

3.This, for me, is a tough question, as what I read depends on what mood I’m in while I’m doing the picking. In book form, I’ll probably try and finish Nicci French’s Tuesday’s Gone, as I have the next in this really enjoyable series waiting too. Digitally, at present I fancy The Drop by Dennis Lehane, or perhaps Mothers Of The Disappeared by Russel D McLean, which his publishers kindly made available to me on request, so I could begin his apparently excellent series at the beginning.