A Drink Before the War – Review

This is my first book by Dennis Lehane, which I enjoyed. I thought the plot could be stronger, which for me is a must in a crime or thriller novel, but the book is strong on characters and place. The pace was a bit slow in the first half but picked up nicely once the ‘war’ started. Some of the dialogue is a bit too cliched and I think there is too much detail in places.

It looks like the author had just finished a creative writing course. One thing you learn on such a course is to understand your main characters so well that you know the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the music they like, and so on. But there is no need to give all this detail to your readers. They can deduce this from the clues you give. ‘Show don’t tell’ is  a creative writing maxim that the author didn’t apply in this case.

As it’s a debut work I’ll give it three and a half stars. The author has gone on to greater things such as Mystic River and Shutter Island.

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