Dennis Lehane – A Drink Before The War

This is the first of Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro detective series, and it’s amazingly good. Patrick Kenzie is hired by a trio of politician friends of his father’s to retrieve some documents that a cleaning woman stole from one of their offices. When he and Angie Gennaro track down the woman, they discover that the politicians aren’t the only ones looking for her, and that their motives for retrieving the documents are less than pure. The woman is murdered, and in the wake of this killing, Kenzie and Gennaro find themselves cast into the middle of a gang war spilling out into the streets of Boston. Patrick Kenzie is a strong, well-drawn character, and Angie Gennaro provides an complex foil for his self-destructive impulses. The book is filled with dark wit and gritty observations on race, class, and corruption. It’s both tense and thoughtful, and makes for a seriously gripping read.