by Dennis Lehane
Reader Appeal: Adults
Genre: Crime Fiction
PopFam Rating: B+
True confession time: I'm a total fan of Dennis Lehane.
Ever since Shutter Island, I've read anything and everything of his that I could get my hands on. So when I saw The Drop hit bookstore shelves, I had to pick it up and see where this talented thriller writer would take me this time around.
Interestingly, getting The Drop into paperback was a bit of a journey for Lehane. The basis for the book was born in the author's short story, "Animal Rescue." Fox Searchlight films saw the short, liked it, and asked Lehane to adapt it for film. That was made into a movie. Now, in today's economy, can you release a movie without a book to accompany it? Of course not, so while Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Jame Gandolfini were filming, Lehane went back to the typewriter once again and voila! The Drop, in book form, was made for me to read.
Here's the basic story: Three days after Christmas, on his way home from a shift as a bartender at his cousin's bar, Bob Saginowski spots an abused and abandoned puppy in a trashcan. Bob lives a lonely life anyway, and so he rescues the puppy—which in turn leads to an unlikely friendship with a down and damaged woman, Nadia. Meanwhile, Bob's cousin Marv (a former gangster of sorts) is running a "drop bar" where money is laundered for the Chechen mafia. When the bar is robbed, Marv and Bob have no choice but to try and recover the money before they have to answer for it to the Chechens.
As usual, Lehane's story definitely lived up to my expectations. It was a slower pace than I anticipated—not an action-packed thrill-ride. This one is more character-focused than a typical LeHane thriller, spending most of its time getting to know one guy, Bob Saginowski, one woman (Nadia), and a dog (Rocco). Someone called it "a love story wrapped in a crime story," and that sounds like a good description. Still, the plot moved along nicely, keeping my attention all the way through.
Unexpectedly, The Drop actually had a faith element woven into the plot as well. That was an interesting, and unique. Bob goes to Catholic mass every morning—but he refuses to take communion with the other parishioners. He’s a sinner, and he knows it. He feels he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, and therefore disqualifies himself from participating in the common ritual of belief, communion. This adds a texture to Bob’s story that really stands out, and seeing it resolve by the end of the book was gratifying.
The overall ending of The Drop was appropriate too, and includes a measure of happiness—but I did wish for more. I guess that means LeHane got me to care about his characters! Hopefully he’ll come back in the future with more stories about Bob Saginowski and the animal rescue dog, Rocco.
Even though I really liked The Drop, I wouldn’t say this is a great book for younger teens, though. This book features a lot of profanity and criminal violence, along with alcohol dependency and mafia-style torture. In that way it’s a little intense. Probably best for older teens and adults, and in that context it could be a good conversation starter about issues of grace, forgiveness, and faith in difficult circumstances.
Despite its circuitous route to publication, The Drop is a fine addition to the Dennis Lehane canon and one that should please all the Lehane fans in your household.
Tags: Dennis Lehane,Bob Saginowski,Chechen Mafia,Animal Rescue,Tom Hardy,Noomi Rapace
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