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    Review of BEWARE THE SOLITARY DRINKER by Cornelius Lehane

    Poisoned Pen Press, 2002

    Bartender Brian McNulty lives in a strange New York world populated by drunks, unemployed actors, and ex-communists still searching for the revolution. When beautiful young Angelina walks into his bar, he is instantly smitten--as is every other man in the bar. Angelina is troubled and sexually inappropriate (with everyone but Brian, it seems). But that doesn't make her murder any easier to take. When Angelina's sister comes into town, she convinces Brian to help her investigate.

    The investigation turns into a tour of Brian's bizarre world. Everyone has a secret that they won't share with the cops, or even with their bartender. Worse, Brian's investigation seems to make things worse. Everyone is threatened by Brian, even if they aren't the ones who actually committed this particular murder.

    Author Cornelius Lehane delivers a thoughtful and probing look into a strange society. Brian's leftist views are carefully modulated--he knows that some of them are silly but they are part of his upbringing and self-concept. His relationship with Kevin, his son, develops a little late but adds emotional resonance to the story.

    BEWARE THE SOLITARY DRINKER will appeal to fans of film noire. It combines cynicism with just a hint of a hopeful world view. I found this a charming story by a first-time author. Check it out.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/23/03

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