Dennis Lehane returns to the streets of Mystic Riverwith this love story wrapped in a crime story wrapped in a journey of faith - the basis for the major motion picture The Drop, from Fox Searchlight Pictures directed by Michaël Roskam, screenplay by Dennis Lehane, and starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and James Gandolfini.
Three days after Christmas, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live rescues an abused puppy from a trash can and meets a damaged woman looking for something to believe in. As their relationship grows, 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.
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Mr. Lehane is getting better as he ages.
Having not read the print version, I can't say. However, all other things being equal, I always prefer the audiobook, because the performance aspect adds so much to the story that it begins to resemble a movie that is cast in your head. In this case, there actually is a movie of the Drop. It is James Gandolfini's last performance, and it also includes a stunning performance by Thomas Hardy, whom I personally cannot get enough of.
It did. The Chechens seem like the nastiest people on earth. Their vicious characters contrast in a very poignant way with the gentleness of Bob's adoption of a puppy, who, of course, turns out to be a pitbull. Along with this we have a permanently wounded woman, whose ex-boyfriend is a truly crazy individual who claims to have committed a murder that he actually didn't do, just to give him some street cred. Are you on the edge of your seat yet?
The plot just keeps getting wound tighter and tighter. Mr. Lehane never lets a loose thread get away from him, even though there are cross-currents all over the place.
I seldom have a single scene that I remember above the others. Thomas Hardy is in almost all of them, and each scene he is in, he's just like Bette Davis: you just can't take your eyes off him. Even in scenes with James Gandolfini (I realize that I am now referring to the movie. So?) Mr. Hardy keeps the screen and holds it. He brilliantly portrays the depths of this character, from one extreme of human cruelty to the other of human kindness and love. Mr. Lehane has written a terrific book here: as they say, it will stay with you for quite a while.
I neither laughed or cried. I did feel sympathy for the down-and-outers who populate the book, although the truly evil ones do not elicit much fellow-feeling. The initial scene, in which Bob picks up the puppy from the garbage can, and sees the way in which the prior owner has beaten the puppy within an inch of its life: easy to remember writing like this.
It is really good to see Mr. Lehane branch out from the Patrick Kenzie-Angelo Gennaro series. Many writers get trapped in their own successes (you, you know who you are) but Mr. Lehane shows us that he can do stand-alone books that are sometimes better than the series books. Different characters, different plots, although all are located in Boston. Mr. Lehane clearly can keep writing for many years. My proverbial hat is off to him. I'm a fan.
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