I'm not a Mysql buff, so I don't know about the syntax of Mysql's LEFT(). Typically LEFT() functions take another argument: how many characters to extract from the left side.
However the " leads me to belive that there is a double quote in $var. Try printing $query to see what's in it.
If that's the case, do something like this before the my $query... thing.
$var = $dbh->quote($var);
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