Sometimes, you just devour a book, and that was definitely the case with the two I’m reviewing today, The Drop by Dennis Lehane* and You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie*. A mystery element often helps with making a book a quick read for me and both stories have that, as well as underlying intensity that keeps you turning the page.
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You know when you have a feeling you’ll like an author just because you’ve loved a lot of the movies based on his books, even if you haven’t read any of them? That was exactly the case with Dennis Lehane, the author of books like Mystic River and Shutter Island. When his most recent book was published, it was almost simultaneously with a film based on it, so I decided to pick up The Drop by Dennis Lehane before I watched the movie.
The Drop is a short novel about a lonely, aging bartender, Bob, who rescues a puppy from a trash can and meets a struggling woman at the same time. When the bar he works at is robbed, the the Chechens who own the bar want their money back, and Bob is being blackmailed by the guy who claims it was his dog Bob found. There’s also a cop asking questions about a long-ago murder. This is a mean, dark, book that takes place in the underbelly of Boston.
That night, he paused on the sidewalk, feeling the ink sky above him and the cold in his fingers, and he closed his eyes against the evening.
He was used to it. He was used to it.
It was okay.
You could make a friend of it, as long as you didn’t fight it.
Lehane’s writing is to-the-point, and for a short book, there are definitely a lot of players involved, which is why I wasn’t surprised it would translate well into a film. Still, I never felt overwhelmed or confused, and from the beginning it is impossible not to root for Bob even as he wanders dangerously close to some bad people. I was impressed by the gritty world and characters that Lehane created and The Drop definitely won’t be the last novel I read by him.
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I love a dark, creepy mystery and it was exactly that promise that made me pick up You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie, about Livy, a woman who visits her best friend’s Julia’s apartment, only to find her dead. The official ruling is suicide, but Livy refuses to believe it, and the further she digs into the case the more she comes to a shocking realization: the person who killed Julia may have been the same person who killed Livy’s sister, 18 years ago.
You Can Trust Me alternates between Livy as she tries to unravel the mystery, and the killer, as we learn about the victims they have had over the years. Of course, the creepiest bit is from the killer’s perspective, and Livy herself could be a bit annoying at times–that seems to be an unfortunate occurrence in track-down-the-killer stories like this. The killer’s chapters are only a small portion of the book, so I do wish that McKenzie had brought a little more of that intensity to the rest of the story. I also felt like the relationship between Julia and Livy could have had more depth, considering it was the trigger for the entire book.
Overall, I think the flow and the way that pieces of the mystery were revealed worked great in You Can Trust Me. There were plenty of layers, and it kept me hooked enough to read it pretty much non-stop. I really wanted to know who the killer was and I was definitely satisfied with the way the pieces fell into place. Although I wanted a little more from the main narrator, I definitely still recommend You Can Trust Me if you’re looking for an intense mystery to read.
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Have you picked up any books you couldn’t put down lately? Let me know what they were!