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The Drop – By Dennis Lehane

51ED-2Gtt9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Bob and Cousin Marv run a bar on the south side of Boston. Despite being called “Cousin Marv’s” it’s actually owned by the local Chechen gangsters. Because of this it’s used as a secure drop point for various bookmaking money in town so that the gangsters can collect it later. One night a couple of robbers stick up the bar for $5000 and the Chechens do not react well to this event. Bob inadvertently complicates the matter by giving the investigating cop, Detective Torres, a crucial identifying characteristic for one of the robbers. You see, the Chechens would prefer to handle things their own – incredibly violent – way and don’t want cops getting involved. Bob’s mind may have been clouded since a puppy recently came in to his solitary life along with a woman named Nadia who is helping him care for the dog. Throw in a local psycho named Eric Deeds who owned (and discarded) the dog before Bob came along, AND used to date Nadia, and you set off a series of escalating events that all parties will be lucky to survive. Also, Bob – and Detective Torres – are about to lose their local church to a condo developer so that sucks.

Despite the complicated plot description, The Drop is easy to follow and takes its time setting up its pieces.   One of the most unique things about it is the book is based on the screenplay by Dennis Lehane and came out simultaneously with the movie. I had seen the movie prior to reading the book and while it still follows the same story beats, the book provides a lot more exposition and characterization, especially with Detective Torres and Eric Deeds. Like all Lehane books, The Drop doesn’t rely on twists – although there are a few along the way – but is more interested in the characters and how they interact with each other and the situation. It reminded me a lot of the recent Brad Pitt movie Killing Them Softly in its portrayal of small time people just trying to survive.

In the movie Bob is played by Tom Hardy, Cousin Marv is played by James Gandolfini (in one of his last roles), and Nadia is played by Noomi Rapace. It’s a great cast and the actors have a lot of fun with terrific dialogue that comes straight out of the book.

Whether you choose the movie or book (or both) The Drop is a solid crime thriller that will entertain and stick with you.

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