Dennis Lehane, Mystic River


Dennis Lehane made a name for himself with a series of books featuring private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. This is his first standalone thriller “Mystic River”(2001), a best-seller and an Academy Award winning film made by Clint Eastwood. and was a much talked about work. A psychological thriller with law and order overtones, “Mystic River” is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, what an incident from the past impacts on the past. George Pelecanos, himself a noir crime writer with an interest in the social dimension of his stories provides the Appreciation of Lehane as a writer.

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Boston-area author Dennis Lehane, made a name for himself with a series of books featuring private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro and tough-guy best friend Bubba. From A Drink Before the War (1994) to say Prayers for Rain (1999) showed that Lehane was a master of the form of psychological suspense. Then with his departure suspense thriller Mystic River (2001) we have a tale about childhood friends Sean, Jimmy and Dave that have there lives turned upside down by a event on the street. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a detective, while Jimmy has taken to crime. Jimmy’s daughter is found savagely killed and Sean is assigned the case. Sean must go back to find the answers in relationships that he thought had ended years ago. The ambition that brought this configuration of law and order story together with a sharp character and social mileniu study is an intriguing and explosive mix. It contains, as does the succeeding books such as Shutter Island (2003) a number of sub-plots that enrich and give backbone to the work.

Plotline: When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up 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 is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay — demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy’s daughter died covered in someone else’s blood.

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. George Pelecanos, himself a noir crime writer with an interest in the social dimension of his stories provides the Appreciation of Lehane as a writer. The edition of 99 numbered and signed copies sold out on publication.

4.67 out of 5

3 reviews for Dennis Lehane, Mystic River

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Catherine on Shelves on June 18, 2012 :

    Catherine on Shelves: 2011,
    I finally got around to reading Mystic River about a month ago at the recommendation of a few Lehane fans, both diehard and casual, and it did not let me down. Even though I saw the movie years ago when it came out, the novel was still surprising (and better than the movie for offering much more nuance and inner psychological turmoil). (One problem with seeing a movie before reading the book is the inability to picture the characters as anything but as the actors that portrayed them. For example, I could not for the life of me picture Jimmy as light-haired or blond.)

    The basic plot revolves around three men who knew each other when they were children and drifted apart after a pinnacle incident changed their lives, one life in particular, terribly. 25 years later, yet another horrific event brings them all back together, with devastating consequences. The well-rounded characters are painted with depth and precision – well, as much precision as one can get when rendering psychological portraits.
    Sometimes Celeste found herself consciously trying to ignore a notion that it wasn’t only the things in her life but her life, itself, that was not meant to have any weight or lasting impact, but was, in fact, programmed to break down at the first available opportunity so that its few usable parts could be recycled for someone else while the rest of her vanished. (123)
    The novel progresses with a sort of compassionate suspense, leading the reader to the inevitable outcome he or she knows is coming while still hoping otherwise. The entire story is steeped in foreboding.
    …Jimmy felt that mean certainty again.
    You felt it in your soul, no place else. You felt the truth there sometimes–beyond logic–and you were usually right if it was the type of truth that was the exact kind you didn’t want to face, weren’t sure you could. That’s what you tried to ignore, why you went to psychiatrists and spent too long in bars and numbed your brain in front of TV tubes00to hide from hard, ugly truths your soul recognized long before your mind caught up. (115)
    Lehane manages to capture what just about anyone might be capable of, given the right experiential contexts and scenarios. It reveals the depths of humanity’s compassion/love and its horrific evil, and it explores the tenuous morality and honor most of us strive for in our own way. All in all, it was a fantastic read, and I look forward to reading more of Lehane’s work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rating by HG on June 18, 2012 :

    Kirkus Reviews
    After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.
    Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.
    An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rating by George P Pelecanos on June 18, 2012 :

    Extract from the Appreciation by George P Pelecanos

    It was bound to happen that a young writer like Dennis Lehane would come up on the scene and leave his mark. He brought together the experiential sensory elements of his generation – rock and roll, movies, and literature – and successfully synthesized them into a satisfying whole. Lehane knows his influences and he doesn’t deny them; Chandler, Peckinpah and the Stones drift through these pages, often at once. The cool part of it is, Lehane makes it all feel new. So Lehane is a literary badass, and he’s here to stay. What he could have done, what his people probably wanted him to do, was to keep writing series novels. And frankly, we as readers wouldn’t have minded that one bit. But now he’s gone and stepped out of the box with a novel unlike anything he’s ever written. It’s called Mystic River, and it’s a stunning book. Mystic River spans twenty-five years in the lives of three friends growing up in the working class neighbourhoods of Boston. A childhood incident of monstrous implication returns to haunt them when, as adults, one of their own children is brutally murdered. As each of the three men struggle to confront their demons, the novel hurtles forward towards its inevitable, tragic conclusion. The above synopsis includes the elements of many a mystery thriller, and rest assured, Lehane does deliver the genre goods. The book moves. But it’s much more than a good read. Its quiet moments, like a moving, cathartic conversation between a father and son over a couple of beers, are its most memorable. I finished the book a month ago, and trust me, Mystic River resonates long after its last page; it’s the finest novel, period, I’ve read this year.

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