Mobster thriller a doggone good read
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.