Mob­ster thriller a doggone good read

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Jessica Botelho-Ur­ban­ski

IF you didn’t get to va­ca­tion this sum­mer, read­ing Den­nis Le­hane’s lat­est — a nov­el­iza­tion of a screeen­play adapted from his short story An­i­mal Res­cue — might be your best chance for a quick get­away. It’d be a de­cep­tive, bloody, mur­der­ous get­away, but hey, in a pinch... No, Le­hane’s lat­est isn’t for the faint of heart or stom­ach. The Drop is a chill­ing peek at the lives of two cousins who got caught up in shady deal­ings with Chechen gang­sters. And like Le­hane’s pre­vi­ous New York Times best­seller­sturned­block­busters — Gone, Baby, Gone, Mys­tic River and Shut­ter Is­land — The Drop is a ter­ri­fy­ingly good thriller; the movie adap­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal story, star­ring Tom Hardy, Noomi Ra­pace, and the late James Gan­dolfini in his fi­nal cin­e­matic role, hit the­atres on Fri­day. The Drop be­gins in a bar, as so many sor­did sto­ries do. Cousin Marv owned his own bar once upon a time, but lost own­er­ship when his bat­tles against drug ad­dic­tion took a turn for the worse. Now a front for more seedy schemes by lo­cal mob­sters, Cousin Marv’s is a drop lo­ca­tion for stacks upon stacks of dirty money. Bob Sagi­nowski, Marv’s cousin and loyal bar­tender, tries to keep his head down and avoid any mess. And he suc­ceeds, un­til one day he dis­cov­ers a poor, beaten puppy in a trash can. A spon­ta­neous adop­tion sends Bob’s life into a tail­spin. Through themes of loy­alty and lone­li­ness, Le­hane leads read­ers on a wild goose chase where ev­ery as­sump­tion goes awry. After a rob­bery at the bar loses Cousin Marv $5,000 — money not his own, but the mob’s — threats sur­face, and Marv and Bob’s lives are in dan­ger. All the while Marv is try­ing to ad­just to the new­found re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of hav­ing a pet dog — dif­fi­cult for some­one who has lived on his own for decades. Lit­tle does he know just how dan­ger­ous a lit­tle dog can be. Na­dia, a new friend and neigh­bour, helps out with the pup. She could be­come more than a friend, Bob muses, but two such in­de­pen­dent peo­ple don’t typ­i­cally take well to co-habi­ta­tion at first. For some­one who had no friends, pets or death threats to his name, Bob does sur­pris­ingly well ad­just­ing to his new life sit­u­a­tions through­out the novel. He is by far the most like­able and seem­ingly straight­for­ward character in the book. Mean­while, Le­hane’s other char­ac­ters are marred by cor­rup­tion and ul­te­rior mo­tives. Cousin Marv is per­haps the big­gest dis­ap­point­ment when he de­ceives his friends for the chance at a quick cash grab. A psy­chotic gang­ster named Eric Deeds is also in­tro­duced later, and be­comes a ma­jor hin­drance to Bob’s oth­er­wise (rel­a­tively) nor­mal ex­is­tence. When he ar­rives on Bob’s doorsteps pro­claim­ing Bob’s new dog is his own, the soft-spo­ken bar­tender de­vel­ops a steely ex­te­rior. Le­hane’s lay­ered sto­ries about a fam­ily legacy and their neigh­bour­hood gone wrong fit to­gether im­pres­sively well, and cul­mi­nate per­fectly. As it should, The Drop ends not with a whim­per, but a bang, but (spoiler alert!) you will wish it hadn’t. Jessica Botelho-Ur­ban­ski is the arts ed­i­tor for Out­Words Mag­a­zine and a jour­nal­ism stu­dent at Red River Col­lege.

The Drop

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