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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Genre: Fiction, thriller, mystery
Paperback, 369 pages
Book source: Purchased from used book store

Synopsis from Book Browse:

Summer, 1954.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.

And neither is Teddy Daniels.

Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe’s radical approach to psychiatry? An approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing. . . .

Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?

As the investigation deepens, the questions only mount:

How has a barefoot woman escaped the island from a locked room?
Who is leaving clues in the form of cryptic codes?
Why is there no record of a patient committed there just one year before?
What really goes on in Ward C?
Why is an empty lighthouse surrounded by an electrified fence and armed guards?

The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they may never leave Shutter Island. Because someone is trying to drive them insane. . . .

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one. The writing is easy and just flows. The plot is not very complex. I was able to figure out the book half way through, although there is an aspect at the end that I was not prepared for. Now I can't say whether it was creepy on it's own, because I think the movie previews I have seen for the past few months bled into my subconsciousness. I will say the previews were accurate with what I eventually read. I have done research into the history of psych treatment and institutions for work, so I can definitely tell you that psych care was pretty barbaric in the past. Some may even say heinous. That alone gives me chills.

Teddy is a complex character who has seen things in his life that no other human should have to see. He was one of the soldiers who liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Teddy was also a code breaker, and worked for special ops in WWII. Teddy is familiar with the most evil aspects of human nature, but through it all keeps trying to do the right thing. Bring justice to those who need it, like the missing Rachel Solando.

Teddy's partner Chuck makes an excellent foil for Teddy, providing slight comic relief and easy likability. Dr. Cawley is another interesting character. He wants to get down to the bottom of this mystery as quickly as possible, but yet does not offer as much help to Teddy as he could. Or does he? That's part of the mystery. Dr. Cawley also wants to help his patients to the best of his ability; treat them as humanely as possible without resorting to harsh treatments or surgery. But he is fighting a losing battle, therefore it is imperative the mystery be solved.

I read and saw the movie of Lehane's other book, Mystic River. I think Shutter Island is almost as good as that. It is thisclose to Mystic River.

Click to visit the author's website.

My Rating: 90/100 I enjoyed this story a lot and had a tough time putting it down. It was a page turner for me.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Read Own Books (RYOB)


Blodeuedd said...

More a book for a friend of mine I think :)
This is the only genre I do not read

Staci said...

Loved your thoughts and when you rated it 90 it immediately is going on my must read list!!!

Irene said...

Thank you for this post, I'm dying to see the movie, but fear no one will go with me, and then how do I walk home alone, but reading about it, well I can read in safety.

Nise' said...

Great review. Did you see the actors portraying the characters as you read or did you form you own picture of them?

Anonymous said...

I did enjoy the book and the movie was a perfect representation of it. The previews make it look scary, but it really isn't spooky.

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