Tag Archives: The Drop

‘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.

‘The Short Drop,’ by Matthew FitzSimmons

Matthew FitzSimmons is a new author, and he seems to have hit a home run with his first novel, a mystery/thriller entitled The Short Drop.

The story’s hero is Gibson Vaughn, a young man with world-class potential who’s the victim of his own indiscretions. Years ago he was briefly famous when he hacked into the computers of a prominent senator, Benjamin Lombard, uncovering evidence of malfeasance. The whole thing blew up on him when further investigation revealed that the actual author of the malfeasance was Gibson’s father, the senator’s chief aid. Gibson’s father committed suicide, and Gibson himself barely escaped prison when he was allowed to enlist in the marines. On leaving the service Gibson learned that the senator, now Vice President, has neither forgotten nor forgiven. In spite of his skills, Gibson is unhireable.

Then he gets an offer from a security company to do a short-term hacking job. In spite of his desperation, he almost says no, because the head of the company is a man who used to work for Sen. Lombard. He played a major role in prosecuting Gibson. But Gibson changes his mind when he learns the purpose of the investigation. They’re trying to find out what happened to Suzanne Lombard, the senator’s daughter. She was like a sister to Gibson, and she disappeared as a teenager while Gibson was in jail awaiting trial. He joins the team to work with a male/female pair of operatives, and gets involved more deeply than anybody planned.

The story that follows must have been a nightmare to outline. Surprise follows surprise, good guys and bad guys change places, people die unexpectedly, and the plot twists around like a politician’s principles. The tension never lets up.

Highly recommended, with the usual cautions.