The DropThe Drop by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

i love a small story, well told.

this one concerns a very lonely man, a pit bull puppy, a woman with a mysterious scar (who’s a bit of a sexy lamppost, but oh well), some scary Chechens, and a cousin who used to own a bar.

oh ya, and there’s also a churchgoing cop and a church up on the auction block, and whether god forgives us our worst sins.

Lehane has a gift for dropping a reader into a story right in the middle of things, but he never leaves one feeling unsure of the ground under one’s feet. you can pretty much smell the trash cans, gauge the mood of the room, feel stagnation leaching off ancient furniture. he’s a master of details, and it’s all done without him ever infodumping you or telling you how to feel. love that.

he’s also got a gift for plot–giving a reader just enough to stay a step or two behind without ever getting ahead or worse, getting lost. the more mysteries i read, the harder i think this trick is to pull off. there’s a sweet spot there, and Lehane keeps it clear on his radar.

this is also a rather sweet story, for all the drills and body parts. a romance with puppy chow and ex-boyfriends from hell. and this is also a rather neatly-pulled-off trick, because Bob, our protag, is decidedly not romantic, suave, or sexy. hell, he’s barely learned to speak to other humans. if there’s hope for Bob, there may yet be hope for the rest of us.

it’s a short book, can be read in a couple dedicated hours. once you start it, don’t plan on doing much else til it’s done.