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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shutter Island: A Novel

My latest book from the library is Shutter Island: A Novel by Dennis Lehane, who has written a number of award winning novels, some of which were turned into movies (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island). According to Wikipedia, Lehane wanted to write a novel that would be an homage to Gothic settings, B movies, and pulp. He described the novel as a hybrid of the works of the Brontë sisters and the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Here's what Publishers Weekly says of it ....

Know this: Lehane's new novel, his first since the highly praised and bestselling Mystic River, carries an ending so shocking yet so faithful to what has come before, that it will go down as one of the most aesthetically right resolutions ever written. But as anyone who has read him knows, Lehane, despite his mastery of the mechanics of suspense, is about much more than twists; here, he's in pursuit of the nature of self-knowledge and self-deception, and the ways in which both can be warped by violence and evil. In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals' digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel's apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path - most notably by the hospital's chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley - and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife - are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart. There is no mystery, however, about how good this book is; like Mystic River, it's a tour de force.

I'm just about a quarter of the way into the book. If it was a movie, it would have an R (maybe X?) rating for sex, language, and violence, but I think it's pretty good so far. UPDATE - I've finished the book, and although I found it intriguing the whole way through, I should also say I found it very disturbing.


Blogger Paul Edward said...

I must say I didn't read the book edition but watched the shutter island movie. It's an amazing movie I've ever watched and most importantly story line of this movie truly exceptional. Very complicated but have so many lessons to learn through watching such movie!! Thanks.
which is better shutter island or the crazies

2:31 PM  

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