eBook, 224 pages
A love story wrapped in a crime story wrapped in a journey of faith.
Three days after Christmas, Bob, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live, hears a whimper coming from inside a trash can. The abused puppy he finds there will change his life forever, as will Nadia, the damaged woman he meets that night. Like him, she's desperately searching for something to believe in.
Bound together by their decision to rescue the puppy, Bob and Nadia's relationship grows. But just as they've found something to live for, they cross paths with the Chechen mafia; a man grown dangerous with age and thwarted hopes; two hapless stick-up artists; a very curious cop; and the original owner of the puppy, who wants his dog back. . . .
The Drop by Dennis Lehane is a very highly recommended, gritty, bleak crime novel set in Boston.
Bob Saginowski works as a bartender for his cousin Marv in a bar Marv used to own. Now the bar is owned by the Chechen mafia. Bob, an introspective loner who regularly attends mass but never takes communion, finds a puppy beaten near death in a garbage can on his way home from work one night. As he rescues the puppy, he meets the woman whose garbage can the puppy was dumped in, Nadia Dunn. After Nadia determines why he is going through her garbage, she helps him by cleaning up the puppy's injuries and cares for the puppy until he is able to come back for it. Then she helps Bob buy supplies and gives him advice about training his puppy. Bob is hopeful that the puppy and Nadia will both be a good edition to his otherwise solitary life.
When the bar is robbed one night, it is clear that whoever did it doesn't fully understand who really owns the bar and why members of the Chechen mafia are owners no one should want to cross. Bob notices a detail about one of the robbers when giving a description to the police that could be a clue to the identity of the robbers.
In a further complication, a psychotic man claims he is the owner of Bob's dog, now named Rocco after a Saint, and is threatening Bob. Cousin Marv is also up to something.
The Drop is definitely noir fiction and not for the faint-hearted. It is a dark, tension filled novel where cruel men demonstrate just how loathsome they can be to each other, as well as a puppy.
There is language. The atmosphere is one of hopelessness and resignation to the cruelties of life, with perhaps, the smallest distant glimmer of some hope. I galloped through this short novel, wanting to know what happened next.
Apparently The Drop was based on a short story, “Animal Rescue,” and is the novelization of the screenplay for the soon-to-be-released movie of the same name. I have a feeling it will make an excellent movie.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.