Dennis Lehane was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a tough Irish Catholic working-class neighborhood of Boston. He graduated from a Catholic high school in Boston and, after two years at two different Boston-area colleges, attended Eckerd College in Florida, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1988. While at Eckerd, he considered himself a writer of gloomy short stories but tossed off a draft of a novel in three weeks “to entertain myself,” as he puts it.
Lehane then took on a variety of jobs—counselor for handicapped and abused children, limousine driver, and truck loader. During this period, A Drink Before the War was published, a heavily revised version of that first novel dashed off at Eckerd. While attending Florida International University on a fellowship, he produced a draft of what would become Mystic River as his master’s thesis. After graduating in 2001 with a master of fine arts degree, he returned to Boston, continuing to work at jobs he did not have to take home with him, leaving time for writing, his true passion.