Tag Archives: Dennis Lehane

‘Since We Fell,’ by Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell

“Who was your father?” She turned her chair toward him. “Your real father.”

“Jamie Alden,” he said brightly. “People called him Lefty.”

“Because he was left-handed?”

He shook his head. “Because he never met a place or a person he wouldn’t leave….”

This one, it seems to me, is a bit of a departure for Dennis Lehane. Not in the sense of being less dark than his other work, but Since We Fell has the form of something like a light romance/caper novel. Except in a very minor key. Because this is Lehane, after all.

Rachel Childs got off to an insecure start in life. Her single mother, briefly famous as a pop psychologist, controlled her daughter through manipulation. One of her chief manipulations was her refusal to tell Rachel who her real father was. After her mother’s death, Rachel tried to solve that mystery (there is, I think some existentialist subtext here), with disappointing results.

Her promising career as a television journalist crashes and burns one day when, while reporting on a disaster in Haiti, she has a full-blown psychological meltdown on camera. After that she sinks into agoraphobia and sees no hope for the future.

And then Brian Delacroix, a past acquaintance, re-enters her life. He is charming and cheerful, infinitely patient with her, and genuinely devoted. With his help, she begins to find the courage to face the world.

And that’s when everything starts going south in serious ways.

I won’t tell you more about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil the fun. Since We Fell is a weirdly compelling novel which mixes romance with stark realism, and offers some major surprises (a few of them fairly improbable). I thought it was a great read, but also thought it morally questionable.

Cautions for adult situations, violence, cynicism, and language.

‘The Drop,’ by Dennis Lehane

The Drop

Bob’s church is closing. That, I think, is the central metaphor of The Drop, a masterful novel by Dennis Lehane.

Bob loves his church, and goes to mass every day. But he never communes, because he refuses to make confession. He loves the old church’s traditional beauty. He finds a kind of peace there. But the Boston diocese can no longer support it, due to legal obligations to victims of priestly abuse.

Bob is a nice guy. People like him. But he’s lonely. Women don’t find him attractive. His only real friend is his boss, his cousin Marv. He and Marv set out to be gangsters once, years back, trying to be tough. But then the Chechen mob moved in, showing them what tough really meant. They took over Marv’s bar, and Marv and Bob sank back, almost with relief, into semi-respectability. Except that the bar is now a “drop,” where from time to time gambling money is collected for pick-up by the mob’s messengers.

Then one night, Bob hears a noise from a garbage can. He opens it to find a puppy there, bloodied and abandoned. A girl watches him rescue the animal, and in one night Bob acquires both a pet and a (sort of) girlfriend.

Bob doesn’t know it, but people are making plans, intending to use him as a pawn.

They are making a big mistake.

This is one of Lehane’s best novels, in my opinion, which is saying a lot. Not only does he ratchet up the tension mercilessly, but he plots with elegance. I wasn’t prepared at all for the conclusion.

Christianity plays a major role in The Drop. I don’t think Lehane is advancing any kind of apology for Christianity, but he asks the right questions, and poses the big problem (in my view) entirely correctly.

Highly recommended. Not for kids, or those easily shocked.