Dennis Lehane returns to the streets of Mystic River with this love story wrapped in a crime story wrapped in a journey of faith—the basis for the major motion picture The Drop, from Fox Searchlight Pictures directed by Michaël Roskam, screenplay by Dennis Lehane, and starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and James Gandolfini.
Three days after Christmas, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live rescues an abused puppy from a trash can and meets a damaged woman looking for something to believe in. As their relationship grows, they cross paths with the Chechen mafia; a man grown dangerous with age and thwarted hopes; two hapless stick-up artists; a very curious cop; and the original owner of the puppy, who wants his dog back. . . . – Goodreads
This one of those very rare cases when I watched a movie based on a book and liked the movie so much that I wanted to read the book right away.
Strangely, I’ve had a lot of trouble figuring out what to say about this book – in no small part because the part that made me love it is a spoiler, so I can’t share it. So instead, I’m going to talk about both the movie and the book, and my impressions of both after watching the film and reading the book.
This is the story of Bob, a quiet guy who works at his uncle’s bar as a bartender. Outside of work, he doesn’t have much in his life. He lives simply in the house he inherited from his parents, he isn’t married, doesn’t have any kids or other close family, and his only social interaction is at his church.
Then one night he’s walking home from work, and he hears a noise in a garbage can. When he investigates, he discovers a pit bull puppy that was beaten and left for dead. As he’s rescuing the dog, the woman whose garbage can the dog was dumped in comes out to check out what’s going on. Before he knows it, Bob has a new dog, and a new friend.
But life isn’t suddenly perfect for Bob – or for his dog Rosco and new friend Nadia. Bob’s neighbourhood is home to plenty of illegal activity, and the bar he works at is used to launder money from illegal betting. Not only that, but his uncle has a chip on his shoulder and delusions of what the world owes him. Which is never a good combination.
Pretty soon Bob’s dealing with his bar being robbed, gangsters coming after their missing money, and Rosco’s owner (not a nice piece of work) who wants his dog back – and who just happens to have history with Nadia.
I really can’t say anything else without giving away important plot points. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, and on the surface there’s not much to it. But I loved the way the characters are drawn and developed. Normally watching a movie before reading a book ruins some of the scope for imagination, but with this book I was really glad I did things in that order. The movie was perfectly cast, and having the on-screen images flashing through my mind as I read really added depth for me. I will say, however, that because the movie and book are so close (the author worked on the script, I believe), if you watch and read too closely, it will feel a bit repetitive. Which didn’t bother me because I liked the story so much, but fair warning.
The film stars Tom Hardy in the role of Bob, Noomi Rapace as Nadia and James Gandolfini in his final role as Bob’s cousin Marv. It’s an all-star cast, and they do not disappoint.
Take a look at the trailer:
I’d highly recommend both the film and the book. Aside from anything else, if you’re an animal lover like I am, watching Bob’s attachment to his adopted puppy is completely heartwarming, and his dedication to his furry friend will make you feel like the world isn’t such a horrible place after all.
Author: Dennis Lehane
Published By: William Morrow Paperbacks
Released: September 2, 2014 (first published January 1, 2014)
Genre: Fiction, Character-Driven, Suspense, Drama
Date Read: January 24-February 8, 2015
A spoiler for the animal lovers: