"Based on the screenplay he developed for Twentieth Century Fox from his short story "Animal Rescue," New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane's The Drop follows a former criminal whose efforts to build a new life with his girlfriend and pit bull rescue puppy fall apart when he becomes mixed up in a robbery gone wrong; scheduled for release in Fall 2014, Fox's film of the same title stars James Gandolfini (in his final on-screen performance), Tom Hardy, and Noomi Rapace"--
Bob Saginowski is a lonely bartender with a secret when he finds a puppy in a trash can. His boss is Cousin Marv but not really the owner of ‘Cousin Marv’s since it is now run by the Chechan mob. Then there is the police detective at his church who wants to know his secret. Toss in a recently released convict, the upcoming closing of Bob’s church, the new woman in Bob’s life and you have a pretty good story in a little of 200 pages. I really liked the development of Bob’s character but at times the story was slow and my mind drifted.
Bob is a loner, a bit of a social misfit, a man with secrets that come between him and the world -- and Bob is desperately lonely. When he finds a battered puppy stuffed in a garbage can, he seems to have finally found a friend - not only the puppy, but a woman he meets nearby who encourages him to take in the dog. It would not be wise to step between the man and his new friends.
That's only part of the story. Bob works for his Cousin Marv at the bar everyone thinks Marv owns, but is really a front for the Chechen mob. Cousin Marv used to be somebody, be a tough guy, but in the end, he wasn't tough enough. The Chechens treat him like an errand boy and it galls him, maybe enough to do something stupid.
I think everyone reading The Drop sees the end coming. Cousin Marv's bar is going to be "the drop" on one of the biggest nights of the year and that makes them a target. We all know that something bad is going to happen - the question is who will it happen to and how will they react. You can't help but root for Bob, I think, and his poor puppy and his friend, Nadia. You want things to work out for them and there are so many ways this could all go wrong. I kept expecting one more twist, one more complication, and that's the tension that kept me turning pages, rushing towards the end.
I am looking forward to seeing the movie, although I had a hard time imagining Tom Hardy as a misfit loner...until I saw the stills from the movie. You can see it in the hunch of his shoulders and the set of his mouth. It's going to be interesting to watch. In the meantime, I strongly recommend the book. It's a quick read and very enjoyable. It looks like I'll be working my way through Lehane's back catalog, while I wait for the next novel.
A pathetic and abused pug proves to be the initialing factor that a lonely man named Bob needs to add a little something to his naturally boring life. But is Bob who he pretends to be? Are any of the people, these characters on the up and up? Do they all have hidden agendas and lives filled with secrecy and pain? Well this is a Lehane story and these are the tough gritty streets of Boston, so of course anything goes and often does.
This author is a magician, even things and circumstances that appear normal and make sense, often are twisted around, leaving this reader with a 'where did this come from?" Amazing.
ARC from NetGalley..
Let me start by saying I’m a big Dennis Lehane fan. I love his mysteries and the characters. His historical fiction is good. The Given Day is a phenomenal book. So I was excited to get an advance copy of The Drop.
The Drop is an expansion of the Lehane story, Animal Rescue, included in the book boston noir. It was a disjointed story to begin with, however, and all he did was transform it into a disjointed novel. Bob, Nadia, Marv and Eric all harbor deep, dark secrets and desires. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make them overly interesting. The predictable plot and ending contain little ‘noir’ and less suspense.
There are changes that Lehane made from the short story that don’t seem significant. For instance, The Drop takes place after Christmas; Animal Rescue after Thanksgiving. Why change it?
There are oblique references to the short story, as well. In Animal Rescue the dog is named Cassius, after Cassius Clay. In The Drop, Bob mentions that he almost named the dog Cassius instead of Rocco. I’m sure that was for his own amusement, but I didn’t find it funny.
I seem to be the only one who was dissatisfied with this book. All the reviews are glowing and I didn’t realize that they made a movie out of it.
But, sadly, The Drop fell far short of my expectations. I will not follow the crowd on this one.
Bob is the bartender. He's a loner who attends daily Mass but never receives communion. The reader wonders what he may have done that makes him feel that he can't receive. Later when he learns that his church is going to be sold for commercial purposes it brings a message about the Catholic Churches with dwindling parishioners and aging priests. Churches must close and parishes are combined.
Cousin Marv tells Bob to take down the Christmas decorations on Dec 27th and even objects to Bob's kindness in running a tab for a senior citizen who spends much of her time at the bar.
On his way home one night, Bob hears a whimpering sound from a dumpster and finds an abandoned puppy. As he's getting the puppy out of the dumpster, a woman raises her window and yells at him to get out of her garbage. When the woman, Nadia, learns what Bob was doing, she becomes friendly.
I enjoyed Bob as a character. He reminded me of Marty, in the 1950s movie of that name. The warmhearted butcher in that film seemed like Bob who didn't have any friends before Nadia. Bob was also proud of being the owner of an animal that depended on him. When the original owner of the dog appeared and wanted the dog back, it created a dramatic sequence.
There is also a memorable scene when a character gets out of prison and travels south to see the man who was his protector in jail. What happens in this man's house was also well written.
I didn't think we had enough background on Nacia or Marv to understand why they acted the way they did.
"The Drop" was not up to the excellence of "Mystic River," but still a good read.
I love dogs. I hate it when bad things happen to dogs and other animals, fictionalized or real. I love it when people undo the bad things that happened.
The characters of Bob, the bartender, his cousin Marv, and robbery detective Torres, seem ordinary in most ways, yet are quite extraordinary. Bob and Torres go to daily 7:00 a.m. Mass at Saint Dominic's with Father Regan. Bob occasionally does the Stations of the Cross. His father also went to Saint Dom's, an old, traditional church built in the 1800's.
As the characters change, so does Saint Dom's. Due to dwindling attendance and expense, the Church is slated to be closed and sold to developers, and Father Regan transferred. Although not critical to the plot, Saint Dom's significance to Bob and Torres provides a framework for the story revolving around the bar.
"The Drop" contains a full gamut of the human condition: love, evil, faith, greed, cruelty, fear, malaise, kindness, concern, . . . It's just that the degree of each varies.
Much like Lehane's early novels, Prayers For Rain, Shutter Island and the brilliant Mystic River, The Drop is driven with characters whose deeds and thoughts are the blood of the novel as they survive the mean streets of Boston.
"...It finally got to Marv and he scowled. "I don't like what you're, you know, insinuating. We got robbed."
"I know you got robbed."
"But you're treating us like suspects."
"Not for robbing your own bar, though." Torres gave Marv a soft roll of the eyes and a sigh. "Marv-it's Marv, right?"
Marv nodded. "That's what the sign above the building says, yeah."
"Okay Marv." Torres patted Marv's elbow and Bob got the feeling he was trying not to smirk. "Everyone knows you're a drop."
"A what?" Marv put his hand behind his ear, leaned in.
"A drop," Torres said. "A drop bar..."
Bob worked the bar at Cousin Marv's, a quiet shift nowadays, since the Chechens had taken over the neighborhood. Back in the day, Bob was part of a crew that Marv ran but those days had long gone. Now he just tended bar and kept quiet and to his self. But change was coming for Bob and it all began on his stroll home and the soft cries coming out of the trash barrel. Buried under the trash was a beaten and starved puppy and for once Bob could not turn away. He could not pretend that all the troubles happening around him weren't.
Marv's bar was going to be the site of the big drop. When all the gambling money was collected and delivered to one central location for the Chechens to claim. No one knew in advance where the drop was going to happen. The bar, and the Chechens had many such bars across the city, didn't even learn that it was to be the drop until that day. But this time even Marv himself had different ideas. In one night, Bob will remember who he is. In one night, it won't be enough just to take whatever the world is throwing at him.
"...I'm sorry, but you kids," Bob said. "You know? You don't have any manners. You go out of the house dressed like you're still in your living room. You say terrible things about women. You hurt harmless dogs. I'm tired of you, man..."
The Drop is coming and all that stands between the money and those who want to take it, is a very tired man. A man the neighborhood has forgotten, but a man who is beginning to remember just who he is.
"...For a time, neither of them said anything. Then Torres leaned in. "No one ever sees you coming, do they?"
Bob kept his face as clear and open as Walden Pond. He held out his hand and Torres shook it. "You take care, Detective..."
The Drop is vintage Lehane. The characters rich and vibrant and the neighborhood that live in breathes with a life of its own. Like most of Lehane's earlier work, no character is really a good person. They all carry their baggage, all have done misdeeds. But they live with their acts and carry on with their lives the best they can. They live and for them it is enough to live. But there comes a moment when each much decide what their lives and the way they live them are worth. A moment that comes altogether for them on the night of the Drop.
The Drop does lose a little in all its separate incarnations and in the sense that it was never written as a true novel, but a short story that was the basis of a film. It is the film, that this novelization is based upon and so in that it does lose some of its strength. But Lehane novels are powerful enough to begin with and The Drop is a story that fits completely in the mold.
A very good read.
What I've read about the the movie says it is set in Brooklyn, which makes no sense.
This book is quite short for Dennis Lehane novel, in fact, this was originally a short story entitled "The Animal Rescue" that Lehane expanded, and then wrote a screenplay for (his first), at the request of a producer. The resulting story was released at the same time as the movie.
If the movie is half as good as the book, I am going to love it. "The Drop" is phenomenal, it's easily one of my favorite crime/thriller reads of the year. It's gritty, engrossing and totally packs a punch at the end. For being so short, there is some amazing character building. Bob, the bartender and animal rescuer is awesome. Why don't I have a Bob in my life? Tom Hardy seems like an ideal fit to play him. I don't want to summarize the book too much and give it away. Just trust me on this, read it!
"THE DROP" is a more accurate title than is "'Animal Rescue.'" The story has more to do with drops at a bar than it does with the rescue of a puppy from a garbage can. Still, the dog rescue and subsequent care do occur. And any animal lover will like the story for that, alone.
But the story is really about a lonely bartender (who rescues the abused puppy), his boss, a police detective, and the Chechen mafia. Of course, one of the bad guys is the dog's original owner. And no reader can be blamed if she cares more about what will happen to that puppy and the lonely bartender than about what will happen with the rest of the characters.
Dennis Lehane has always been so consistently good that it was safe to preorder his books; no review of the ARC was necessary because you knew you were going to love it. That's not true anymore. Even so, this book did make me anxious to see the movie.
I won this book through goodreads.com.
It's not a soppy (or shaggy) dog story, but a twisty turn-y one, full of the neighborhood jamokes so beloved by Lehane fans.
The movie, directed by Lehane, James Gandolfini's last, out on DVD, "dropped" right in and out of theatres, so you can read this first. The book came right from the movie script, but the setting was moved from Boston to Brooklyn. Probably not a great decision, but the book stands on its own.
Bob Saginowski works as a bartender for his cousin Marv in a bar Marv used to own. Now the bar is owned by the Chechen mafia. Bob, an introspective loner who regularly attends mass but never takes communion, finds a puppy beaten near death in a garbage can on his way home from work one night. As he rescues the puppy, he meets the woman whose garbage can the puppy was dumped in, Nadia Dunn. After Nadia determines why he is going through her garbage, she helps him by cleaning up the puppy's injuries and cares for the puppy until he is able to come back for it. Then she helps Bob buy supplies and gives him advice about training his puppy. Bob is hopeful that the puppy and Nadia will both be a good edition to his otherwise solitary life.
When the bar is robbed one night, it is clear that whoever did it doesn't fully understand who really owns the bar and why members of the Chechen mafia are owners no one should want to cross. Bob notices a detail about one of the robbers when giving a description to the police that could be a clue to the identity of the robbers.
In a further complication, a psychotic man claims he is the owner of Bob's dog, now named Rocco after a Saint, and is threatening Bob. Cousin Marv is also up to something.
The Drop is definitely noir fiction and not for the faint-hearted. It is a dark, tension filled novel where cruel men demonstrate just how loathsome they can be to each other, as well as a puppy.
There is language. The atmosphere is one of hopelessness and resignation to the cruelties of life, with perhaps, the smallest distant glimmer of some hope. I galloped through this short novel, wanting to know what happened next.
Apparently The Drop was based on a short story, “Animal Rescue,” and is the novelization of the screenplay for the soon-to-be-released movie of the same name. I have a feeling it will make an excellent movie.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.
One side of Boston I never knew and I can quite imagine it is there. I might read another novel by Lehane but I did leave this one a bit blue. It is quite a brutish world he paints.
A reader who hasn’t read Dennis Lehane before might think that this is a simple good vs. bad confrontation. Such a reader might be in for a surprise. Nothing is black and white in Boston. There are just varying shades of gray, and some of them are rather attractive.
Bottom line: Lehane as created, in this short book, a collection of very well crafted characters. The plot is simple, yet dramatic. I enjoyed it very much.
FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
This is only the second book I have read by Leharne, the other being Shutter Island a few years back. Shutter Island was a good read but also a kind of forgettable book and I never really bothered actively seeking out the author. I came across the Drop in a second hand book store and liked the sound of the blurb and thought it was worth a read. It seemed fairly short at just over 200 pages so I decided to give it a punt.
The story is set in a downtown Boston bar where Bob Saginowski is tending, working for his employer and cousin Marv. Things seem to go well, and Bob lives day to day without too much hassle. One day however when he is walking home, he finds an abandoned puppy and persuades a friend to look after it. Soon after a robbery takes place at the bar that causes the police to look into not just the current situation, but also deeds buried in the past. Throw in the local gangsters and you have an intricate tale of violence and deception, when the puppies original psychopathic owner also comes looking, Bob’s world is turned upside down.
A really worthwhile read, at times dark but always gripping.
Which brings me to Dennis Lahane’s novel The Drop
The novel takes place in the underworld of Boston bars. Bob the bartender is a haunted, lonely man whose life has been stuck in neutral for years. Then he finds a puppy in a garbage can and this small accident changes everything—and not just for Bob.
As in real life, Bob sometimes wishes he hadn’t saved the puppy and there are no assurances that his life will turn out for the better—after all, this is Lehane’s Boston. But at the end of the novel, the reader believes that whatever life brings Bob, he’ll meet it on his own terms.
It’s redemption, Lehane style--plenty of blood and guts, but with a glimmer of hope in all the gore.
I still envisioned James Gandolfini as Cousin Marvin though. He was spot on.
Lehane is a really good writer so it is not disappointing in that respect, but it was too sad and depressing for me.