"There are threads in our lives. You pull one, and everything else gets affected." When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled tip to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened -- something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean Devine is a homicide detective. Jimmy Marcus is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave Boyle is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay -- demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy Marcus's daughter is found murdered, Sean Devine is assigned to the case. His personal life unraveling, he must go back into a world he thought he'd left behind to confront not only the violence, of the present but the nightmares of his past. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy Marcus, who finds that his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave Boyle, who came home the night Jimmy's daughter died covered with someone else's blood. While Sean Devine attempts to use the law to return peace and order to the neighborhood, Jimmy Marcus finds his need for vengeance pushing him ever closer to a moral abyss from which lie wont be able to return, and Dave's wife, Celeste, sleeps at night with a man she fears may very well be a monster. a monster who fathered her child and hides his true nature from everyone, possibly even himself. A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, in which people irrevocably marked by the past find themselves on a collision course with the darkest truths of their own hidden selves.
Of the three boys we are introduced to at the beginning, Sean Devine seems the most likely to succeed. None of the boys come from money, but Sean's family lives The Point, a slightly more affluent working-class neighborhood, and his parents place a premium on education and making sure that Sean has choices that they didn't have. Jimmy Marcus and Dave Boyle are from the other side of the tracks, a lower-rent district called The Flats. Jimmy is a reckless, fearless kid who thrives on breaking the rules. Dave is that kid who is nobody's friend and nobody's enemy. He tags along after Jimmy wherever he goes, and Jimmy tolerates him without actually seeking out his company. Then Dave is abducted, and when he returns four days later nothing is the same.
When we meet the boys again as grownups, their lives have not gone as we might have predicted. Sean has become a cop, and a good one, but his marriage is a shambles and he's just coming off a suspension. Jimmy has moved past an earlier life of crime and now is a law-abiding owner of a small convenience store with three daughters. Dave continues to drift through life, where even a wife and a son can't anchor him to reality and his childhood horror keeps bubbling to the surface in ways he can't predict or control. It all comes to a head when Jimmy's teenage daughter is murdered, Sean is assigned to investigate, and Dave quickly becomes a suspect. Lehane layers revelation upon revelation, slowly building the story to a climax that dispenses a rough sort of justice that ultimately nobody can take satisfaction in.
I knew Lehane was a fine writer well-versed in grim and twisty subjects. His Kenzie-Gennaro series is a masterful display of dark humor and gruesome tragedy. With Mystic River, he's created another pitch-perfect examination of the ways in which past and future combine to create an uncomfortable present. This book could be the textbook for a master class in how to convey a sense of place and character strictly through dialogue, which carries all the flavor of working-class Boston in every line. Even if you've seen the movie and you think you already know how it ends, you'll enjoy the scenery along the way.
This sounds like a lame crime novel from the synopsis, but it is brilliant. Really brilliant. The writing is compelling, the characterization superb. I like stories that take place in the rural Rust Belt, and here, the post-manufacturing suburbs of Boston are nearly a character themselves. It's all so beautifully done. Dark, disturbing, yes. Meaningful assessment of class, yes. Plot-wise, it isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but really, it's written like a modern classic.
Dennis Lehane, you can write a novel, sir.
I decided to read the novel even though I saw the movie because I wasn't that impressed by the movie. It was a well-acted film, but I thought that the writing had some weak points. I know that turning a 400-page novel into a 2-hour screenplay means weeding out some story so I was interested in what was left out. Unfortunately, very little was cut. The weak points of the movie were the weak points of the book. It tried to be about the struggles each of the three lead characters had with their wives, their families, their jobs, their neighborhoods, their pasts, and themselves. That sounds too ambitious, and it was. The book ended up too wordy in some places and too shallow in others.
The only other detective novel I've read this year was Jonathan Letham's Motherless Brooklyn. I would highly recommend that book.
This is a novel about grief, friendship, masculinity, growing older, loss, family, deindustrialisation and what can and cannot be escaped from the past. But it doesn’t shout about it. It is a serious book about people marketed to appeal to the thriller fan. And it is thrilling: I read its 500-odd pages in a few days; if I’d been on holiday it would have been over even sooner. When I was about half way through and anticipating my feelings at the end of the novel, I worked out who I would need to buy this book for: I came up with about six or seven people that would just have to read it.
In the end, it did not quite live up to its enormous promise. This might be true for men of any generation, but fathers are sentimentalised at the expense of sons. Older males are stoic, admirable and possibly alcoholic: they are Men. Younger ones are shiftless, without honour and probably mixed up in drugs. There may too be a problem with the pacing - the built-up emotional punch does not hit quite as hard as I expected; and though the whodunit aspect was never overly important, it is resolved almost casually, and slightly unconvincingly.
But it was never really about who committed the murder, it is about the effects and reverberations of that death upon a community. It is a powerful, wrenching novel, disguised as an airport thriller – I won’t be buying it for you, but do yourself a favour: get it for yourself.
This is essentially a plot-driven book that is better than most because of the author's overall abilities at characterization. Lehane seems to actually care about the working class people and communities he writes about here. He fairly consistently shows solid insight into human nature as he delves into the characters' feelings, perspectives, and emotions. The writing is consistently clear and Lehane does not pad the writing with pointless descriptions of locales, weather, and such.
Despite these solid plusses, though--and my main reason for seeing the novel as primarily plot-driven--is Lehane's questionable sense of focus. There are just too many chapters that play the familiar "leave 'em hanging and do a chapter describing lunch" approach. Lehane often uses such filler chapters ostensibly to do characterization, but often the details seem pointless and indulgent. The chapters on the Harris mother, on the preparations for the funeral, describing Jimmy's interactions with his father-in-law, and so on, seem to serve little purpose except for delaying gratification.
More seriously, though, were two aspects of the novels characterization that seem WAAAY off.
First, we learn about 2/3 of the way through that Jimmy is supposed to be some sort of wunderkind in the crime world. I suppose Lehane saw this as a detail necessary to support Jimmy's grasp of who fingered him and got him sent to prison. But it just seems to come out of nowhere. There is honestly nothing in the guy's thoughts, mannerisms, and especially his demeanor as a child, that speaks to anything like the sort of mind we are told he has as the book winds down. We are simply TOLD that he is a genius.
Second, there is the laughably lame explanation for why young Ray killed Katie. "Y'know, it's these crazy kids today, with their videogames and absent souls." Right. The initial accidental shooting I can buy. But the very idea that they would chase her into the woods and then savagely beat her to death just...defies credulity. I had figured out whodunit far earlier than it was revealed, and it seemed to me that Lehane had a FAR more reasonable motive to use: young Ray could have somehow found out that Jimmy had killed Ray Sr., and then seen his brother's intent to elope with Katie as yet another knife into young Ray's heart. After all, his older brother was really the only human connection young Ray had left. But instead we get this children of the damned b.s.
The first portion of this book talks about what would happen if two friends allowed a third to get into a car with strangers. Ultimately, even though the boy returns he is changed, and their friendship, never really close knit before is over.
Some years later, the three are brought together again. This time, however, the bonds of childhood friendship are strained even further as two are convinced the third is guilty of murder.
Lehane's excellent word imagery really captures the sense of suspense, hurt, despair, grief and anger that pervades the atmosphere of the loss of a loved one in a violent crime.
I finally figured out whodunnit, but was lost about whytheydunnit. Recommend.
A real page turner.
In the end, when Johnny O'Shea holds the gun on Sean, Lehane brings up violence in video games and how, you know, kids today, psycho from all the Doom they play... It's a line of thought that doesn't ring true. In the midst of talking about neighborhood and gentrification, the video game line just doesn't have any basis. Lehane never brings up the next generation growing up in this neighborhood, until he needs them. If he would have given them more grounding earlier in the book...
paths cross again as adults when the daughter of one of them is murdered. The jacket blurb whets the appetite for a book that I devoured in huge bites. The
mystery is woven so skillfully that I didn't see the answer for a while, and
once I did figure it out, the psychological twists kept me turning the pages
until the wee hours of the morning. The finale was shocking and sad, and
the ending of the book leave you hanging and imagining what will happen
next, even though in your gut you already know.
I'd give this one a 5. It's a good read.
I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist & like my baddies to get their comeuppance at the end of the book; I want fiction in my fiction, not shades of real life.
The story moves at a good pace. Lehane has chosen carefully when to reveal different facts and experiences. He does a nice job of hinting at some things until the time comes to reveal them. The story is well constructed and the style supports it. Lehane slips into hyperbolic "tough streets" type descriptions of minor characters, but these sins are minor.
The ending of the story is particularly effective. We see hints of what will happen to the characters, including conflict, but no certainty. Overall, the best book I've read so far this year.