The Drop, Dennis Lehane's latest book is going to be a movie, and Lehane wrote the screenplay. It's easy to visualize the characters, all of them troubled and haunted by their pasts. It's always interesting to enter Lehane's dark, lonely world.
Bob Saginowski has been a bartender, a fixture at Cousin Marv's in the Flats for years. Despite his evenings at work, he's a lonely man, living in the house he inherited, buying few possessions. "It would bring him no closer to what he wanted because all he wanted was to not be alone, but he knew there was no getting rescued from that." He has a routine. Daily mass at St. Dominic's, where he's gone his entire life. Work at night. Then, two days after Christmas, when he's walking home, he hears a noise, and follows the sound, finding an abused puppy thrown away in a barrel. And, then a woman, Nadia, calls out to him, asking about the dog. Three needy souls, needing a reason for hope in a lonely world.
But, despite his isolation, Bob's job at the bar involves him in a life he'd rather forget. There's Marv, who lost the bar to the Chechen mob; there's a man recently released from prison who knows a little too much about Bob's dog and Nadia; there's the two men who robbed the bar, taking money from the pockets of the mob; and there's Detective Evandro Torres. Torres has had his own ups-and-downs in his career, and he's convinced Bob knows more than he's telling about the robbery in the bar, and a ten-year-old neighborhood disappearance.
If The Drop doesn't sound like a story about hope, you'll be surprised. It's a short story, a novel about desperation. All the characters are desperate to survive, hoping for a better life. If you can't change the past, is there a way to live with it, and move on? Is crime and money the way to a better life? Is it a different job, a different country? Or is it a dog and a friend?
Dennis Lehane's novels always make me stop and think. Can you be a good person, and still live with your past? What means hope and success to one person may be totally different to another, particularly in a world where everyone is struggling. Every featured character has their own story of loneliness and hope in The Drop. Once again, Lehane has given readers a complex situation, with a complicated man at the center of it. Bob Saginowski really just didn't want to be alone.
Dennis Lehane's website is www.dennislehane.com
The Drop by Dennis Lehane. William Morrow. 2014. ISBN 9780062365446 (paperback), 207p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I picked up an ARC at a conference.