Book Review: The Barkeep by William Lashner

The Barkeep
by William Lashner
Available 2/1/14
Downloaded free from Kindle First program

Rating:4 bones

Finish Time: 6 nights. I wasn’t super excited about this book at first, but I’m trying to branch out from just NetGalley books, so I’ll try to pick one of the 4 books I’m offered each month through Kindle First.  Last month it went well (The Widow File), and I’m happy to report, this one didn’t disappoint either.  And I’m always honored to review a book before it’s release!

One thing that stood out from this book that I don’t usually notice or at least comment on, was the chapter titles.  Each one was cleverly named after a drink, which kept the bar theme going throughout the book.  I’m not a regular at a bar these days, but it was fun getting insight from a bartender’s point of view, things they do, see, how they treat certain customers, a kind of psychological bonus within the story!

The main character, Justin Chase, is a Penn grad (points for this because my husband is too!), with a law degree, that has decided to take the path of barkeep instead of using his training.  He seems to be quite a good one.  With mental issues himself, he uses that knowledge to read his customers and try to give them what they need, not always just a drink, but sometimes an ear to hear, or a sound board as they work through their own issues.  His current bar, Zenzibar, is full of characters, who we learn, follow Justin around from bar to bar.  They are all unique and have their own side/back stories which are fun.

The meat of the story is when an old man, Birdie, walks into his bar one day and claims he killed Justin’s mother.  Justin’s father is currently in jail for the murder of his mother and Justin never had any doubt in his mind, until now.  So the rest of the story follows Justin as he uncovers details about his parent’s marriage, and maybe things weren’t as perfect as he remembered.  There are some crazy twists and turns.  You never know who you/Justin can trust and until the very end, new details are being revealed, and I was surprised at the ending.  Throw in a bizarre romance, even a bro-mance (not how you are thinking – but a kind of twistedly sweet relationship), and this book really has it all.

A good read, worth your time, check out The Barkeep when it comes out on Saturday February 1st!

Description from Amazon:
Justin Chase is the perfect barkeep, tending bar as he lives his life, in a state of Zen serenity. At least until Birdie Grackle, a yellow-haired, foul-mouthed alcoholic from Texas, walks into his bar, orders a Mojito, and makes a startling confession.

Six years ago Justin’s life was ripped apart when he discovered his mother’s bludgeoned corpse in the foyer of the family home. Now Justin’s father is serving a life sentence and Justin, after a stint in the asylum, drowns his emotions in a pool of inner peace. But when Birdie Grackle claims to be the hit man who murdered Justin’s mother for the money, Justin is hurled back to the emotions, back to the past, and, most frighteningly of all, back to the father he has tried to leave behind.

Who hired Birdie Grackle to kill Justin’s mother? As Justin pieces together the truth, a merciless killing machine begins stalking the barkeep, leaving a trail of dead in his wake. Someone wants to bury the truth, and maybe Justin, too. As the terror closes in, Justin had better find some answers and find them fast, because the stakes have been raised, his life is on the line, and murder is so not Zen.

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