Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reading Rainbow: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

While I've fallen a little behind on the Reading Rainbow installments, that doesn't mean I've been lax in the reading. It's been quite the opposite. In fact, after accidentally leaving my bag with the Jonathan Lethem book I was working through (was my subconscious working for me), I took the opportunity to run out to BookPeople and pick up Shutter Island in the thought that maybe I could finish it before the film was released Friday. Well, with a 50-page jump on things, I read the rest of the book on Tuesday.

Seeing as though I typically don't effortlessly breeze through 320 pages in a day, this is saying something.

In the most basic sense, Shutter Island is page-turner. Upon diving in, you have already burned through to the end by the time you've had a chance to come up for breath. Lehane's prose is filled with verve and tenacity, and his dialogue seems to flow effortlessly from his pen, the words ascribed to each character always ringing true.

In his first foray outside of the contemporary crime novel (this was the last novel he wrote before The Given Day), Lehane crafted a mind-bending psychological thriller that leaves you breathless. As two U.S. Marshals are brought to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner/patient at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are cut off from the outside world by a violent hurricane that is bearing down on the island.

On their own and operating under the watchful eye of the prison and clinical staff, Daniels and Aule begin to uncover an unseemly operation ranging from unethical and inhumane experimentation and surgeries to CIA shadow ops. All the while, Daniels is there secretly on a mission to find the man who set his apartment building on fire and killed his wife in the fire.

As they delve deeper and deeper into their investigation, everything you feel like you know becomes more and more hazy, and nothing is above question. Lehane masterfully toys with perspective and assumption, and by the end of this taut thriller he leaves the reader stunned.

There is not a wasted word in this novel, and it is a rapturous look into the psyche of a man on a mission to stick to his duty while also trying to delicately balance a quest for his wife's killer. Sitting down to read it, you will come to its conclusion before you even realize that any time has passed, and I suppose that is one of the greatest things that could be said about a read.


stacy said...

Just got back from the movie and I have to read this book now. It was incredible and want to go and see it again tomorrow. I'm curious about the ending in the book compared to the movie, because I hear the ending based on one line of dialouge from the movie changes the whole thing.

stacy said...

Also stacey is really Tim Fox. Im on Darcy's mom's computer.

Old Man Duggan said...

I've seen the movie and once I finish an unwieldy fantasy baseball article intend to write up a review. The book is great and exercises a lot more subtlety. There's a bit of plot-tweaking also, but Lehane plays things a bit closer to the chest.

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