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Beware the Solitary Drinker    by Cornelius Lehane order for
Beware the Solitary Drinker
by Cornelius Lehane
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Advice in the literary world is to write about what you know. Cornelius Lehane has satisfactorily followed that advice. He writes knowledgeably about bartending, not so much about the techniques or mechanics of mixing and serving drinks - although that figures in also - but about what, as a bartender in his other life, he has observed of the human condition.

Lehane takes up that baton and races with it through a very satisfying book. Brian McNulty, bartender at Oscar's on the Upper West Side, runs his part of the world with great insight and frequent slugs of the cup that cheers. The murder of a young woman, enticed by the bright lights and excitement of New York, brings McNulty's world to a standstill. Could one of his regulars be the murderer? Brian's investigation of the backgrounds of possible suspects tells him that no one really knows another person - only what that other person wants to you to know.

The New York locales made me itch to visit that city. New York, after the bright lights are dimmed, still crawls with a life that not too many people see. The characters are realistically sculpted - maybe not all people you would want to know, but real nonetheless; not everyone in the world is Nobel prize material. Overall, Beware the Solitary Drinker is fast-paced, compellingly written, and a treat to read.

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