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As far as I know, this is the first of the Kenzie/Gennaro novels by Dennis Lehane and it was great - if I had read this one first it would definitely make me rush out and buy the rest of the series. Patrick is living in an apartment opposite the church where he & Angie share the bell tower as the office of their investigation agency. Apparently having an investigation agency in the tower brings an aura of security to the church...... hmm..... obviously the minister was not expecting gun fights and bomb when he said that! Angie is living with her abusive alcoholic husband Phil, whom Patrick hates - and the feeling is entirely mutual. Patrick and Angie have been hired to find a black cleaning woman who worked for a US senator, and who has allegedly stolen some documents, and then disappeared. As you would expect, all is not as it would appear - they find Jenna, and she is killed. Somehow this links to two rival gangs in the city, both gang leaders are now after Patrick and he is not sure why, the police are after him after a shoot out in a railway station and a US senator is trying to blackmail him. Just another day in the lives of Kenzie & Gennaro!! Patrick and Angie are helped along the way by their old school friend Bubba, who is a bit of a psycho who hates everyone. He has an entire arsenal set up in his warehouse which doubles as his house and incase the three rotweilers patrolling the area were not enough to stop intruders then all the floors are booby-trapped in a way that only Bubba knows the correct sequence of tiles to stand on to cross the room. The book also deals with Patrick and Angie's personal problems - his father ('The Hero') and her husband ('the asshole'). This immediately gives you the feeling of some sort of connection to both characters, they may be popular and doing well running their business but they do so with big black rain clouds over their heads.... Angie is beaten on a regu lar basis, but she still loves her husband.... Patrick has nightmare dreams which wake him constantly, about the abuse he suffered under his father. The issues of the two abuses are dealt with in the book, along with a racial discrimination issue. It is actually quite thought provoking - just what is positive and negative discrimination, are they one and the same? Having never been to Boston, I couldn't vouch for the accuracy of the locations etc but it all seemed to make sense to me. The ghettos are described with enough detail that you can picture the poverty and the way that the residents of the 'white' area interact with those from the 'black' area - you can see where all the racial tension comes from and how this causes half of the problems in the area to begin with. I really enjoyed this book, although I have read most of the others in the series and therefore have grown a liking for Angie, Patrick and Bubba already. This book doesn't see them doing things as dangerous as they do in other books and Bubba is kept on a bit of a leash in this one - no random killing and torturing! It is quite a short book at only 334 pages and therefore doesn't take long to read - a definite easy introduction to the series which I would recommend for everyone who likes the usual sort of crime/thriller type. A Drink Before the War Dennis Lehane Bantam Books £5.99 ISBN 0-553-50385-5
It is summer in Boston; the week before Independence Day. A city steeped in history and racial strife is about to be ripped apart by an unspeakable scandal and a ranging gang war. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are tough private investigators who know the ghettoes of Boston as only natives can.