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Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
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Mystic River (original 2001; edition 2011)

by Dennis Lehane

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8261131,435 (4.06)250
Member:majkia
Title:Mystic River
Authors:Dennis Lehane
Info:Harper (2011), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Next Up, To read, Your library, Mystery
Rating:
Tags:ebook, mystery, Kindle

Work details

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (2001)

  1. 10
    Broken Harbor by Tana French (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Painful childhood memories haunt the detectives of these dark psychological thrillers. Both authors write their respective cities (Boston and Dublin) with realism that augments the flawed, believable characters' struggles. Their secrets and suspicions offer compelling insight into trust in relationships.… (more)
  2. 10
    Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 00
    Amagansett by Mark Mills (amyblue)
  4. 00
    The Strangler by William Landay (KingRat)
    KingRat: Mystic River and The Strangler share common themes of close people growing up to eventually be on opposite sides of the law, with all sorts of mixed loyalties on all sides. Both are set in Boston and have the same hard-boiled feel to them.
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» See also 250 mentions

English (107)  French (2)  Greek (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
An inchoate loaf, I dashed through this, a day before viewing the film. Both sucked. I had heard Lehane on NPR and I appreciated his vision. There are some things I should avoid. Consider me sage. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
i wasn't planning on rereading this for book group, since i had just read it so recently, but my memory is bad so i thought i'd skim it. and then a few sentences in, i just fell right in. i'm actually really glad i didn't just glance through it, because i got more out of it this time. a couple of months ago i was so involved in the story, and so tense while reading to find out what was going to happen, that i missed (or mis-saw) some of what lehane was doing. not being as distracted by the story (although, really, still being so into the story) i could better see that this is a near flawless book, although not quite perfect. (i disagree with most or all of my hesitation from my first read.) i'm so impressed.

this. is. brutal. i wasn't distracted away from the brutality this time as i was last time by the constant push forward in the story, the needing to know what/how/who/why, and i could really focus more on this awfulness of it all. brutal was the word that kept coming to mind as i was reading. by the end it's just a gut punch. i had to set the book aside a few times because it was too intense and hard.

one of the things that i think he did particularly well, and that isn't typical, is that even though it's third person narration, there is a different tone and feel when it's following different characters. so it's approaching a first person narration in multiple points of view, but it doesn't go quite that far. so we never get the narration in their first person, but the style shifts a little, so we do get the third person narration in their voice.

really this is just so well done and while i wish the very very ending was a bit different (really just around jimmy rationalizing dave's becoming a pedophile one day) i think he set up sympathy for dave early on, when his mother responded the way she did upon his return. that must have been almost worse for him, not being allowed to ever process it and heal from it. so many terrible things in this book, but he handles them so well.

and i love his writing. it's perfectly planned out, paced, put together. the tension is just right. so good.

4.5-4.75 stars.

from nov 2018:
ooof. 3.75 stars. i'm not sure that every punch lands in this one, but overall it is excellent. there are a couple of stereotypes that i wasn't thrilled about, but he plays with them, too, showing us that our own assumptions help shape the narrative in a way. i was sure he was going with the abused child becomes the abuser trope, and was glad that he twisted that a bit. there's a danger in writing that story, that a molested child becomes a child molester, because although most child molesters were abused as children, most people who are abused as children don't become abusers. it can be hard to make that difference clear and so i had been worried about where he was going with dave's story. but in the end, while still playing on the trope, i think he was actually telling the reader not to make assumptions based on someone's history. the story is hard, but well done. except i don't understand why he didn't at least hint that silent ray killed katie to keep his brother from leaving boston, from leaving him alone with their mom. making it entirely random instead using a motive that certainly doesn't justify the killing, but makes sense, seems like a pretty big oversight to me. as always, his writing is tight, the pacing is good, he has ideas about race and class and abuse and gender and it's all woven in to make this more than just a thriller. the pain that lives on every page (although i didn't really feel he captured brendan's grief well, after the murder) carries this, as does the story itself.

he did a really good job here. lehane is a quality writer who consistently writes better-than-average thrillers that have depth to them. he might even be one of the best at it. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Feb 7, 2019 |
ooof. 3.75 stars. i'm not sure that every punch lands in this one, but overall it is excellent. there are a couple of stereotypes that i wasn't thrilled about, but he plays with them, too, showing us that our own assumptions help shape the narrative in a way. i was sure he was going with the abused child becomes the abuser trope, and was glad that he twisted that a bit. there's a danger in writing that story, that a molested child becomes a child molester, because although most child molesters were abused as children, most people who are abused as children don't become abusers. it can be hard to make that difference clear and so i had been worried about where he was going with dave's story. but in the end, while still playing on the trope, i think he was actually telling the reader not to make assumptions based on someone's history. the story is hard, but well done. except i don't understand why he didn't at least hint that silent ray killed katie to keep his brother from leaving boston, from leaving him alone with their mom. making it entirely random instead using a motive that certainly doesn't justify the killing, but makes sense, seems like a pretty big oversight to me. as always, his writing is tight, the pacing is good, he has ideas about race and class and abuse and gender and it's all woven in to make this more than just a thriller. the pain that lives on every page (although i didn't really feel he captured brendan's grief well, after the murder) carries this, as does the story itself.

he did a really good job here. lehane is a quality writer who consistently writes better-than-average thrillers that have depth to them. he might even be one of the best at it. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Nov 20, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book, but I do not think it is quite worthy of a five star review. The story was interesting, and I recognize that Lehane's characters were meant to be flawed, but I found the entire cast unlikable. The main police detective (what was his name?!) was a weak character, Jimmy was interesting but not fleshed out enough for me to buy his criminal behavior, and Dave was also, well, weak. I was actually very interested in what exactly happened to Dave in the basement, but Lehane frustratingly does not give us much of that story. My favorite character, Annabeth, Jimmy's wife, did not have much time in the spotlight, and the only other female character, Celeste, was insufferable. Mystic River is set in a blue collar suburb of Boston, which reminded me very much of The Departed. The grimy neighborhood setting added so much to the story. I am in the minority of readers who has not seen the film adaptation, but I am definitely interested in watching. Thank you, Netflix! ( )
1 vote bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
Again, not my kinda book. The diversions are distracting and i loose interest in the plot. So, I gave up on it.
  buffalogr | Sep 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lehane, Dennisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, NienkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stignani, FrancescaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
[He] did not understand women. It wasn't the
way bartenders or comedians didn't understand
women, it was the way poor people didn't
understand the economy. You could stand
outside the Girard Bank Building every day of
your life and never guess anything about what
went on in there. That's why, in their hearts,
they'd always rather stick up a 7-Eleven.
- Pete Dexter, God's Pocket
There is no street with mute stones
and no house without echoes. - Gongora
Dedication
For my wife, Sheila
First words
When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy Plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate back home with them.
Quotations
You ever think how the most minor decision can change the entire course of your life?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish between this 2001 Dennis Lehane novel, Mystic River, and the 2003 movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, of the same name. Thank you.
Publisher's editors
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The book focuses on the stories of three boys who grow up as friends in Boston — Dave Boyle, Sean Devine, and Jimmy Marcus. When the story opens, we see Dave abducted by child molesters while he, Sean, and Jimmy are horsing around on a neighborhood street. Dave is returned home days later, emotionally shattered by his experience. The book then moves forward 25 years: Sean has become a homicide detective, Jimmy is an ex-convict and currently owns a convenience store, and Dave is a shell of a man. Jimmy's daughter disappears and is found brutally murdered in a city park, and that same night, Dave comes home to his wife, covered in blood. Sean is assigned to investigate the murder, and the three childhood friends are caught up in each other's lives again.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060584750, Paperback)

Ever since blasting onto the literary scene with the Shamus Award-winning A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane has been the golden boy of noir. His Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro novels are marvels of tight pacing, dialogue so good it gets under your skin and stays there, with dead-on portrayals of working-class Boston neighborhoods. Sure, he's the oft-proclaimed, hard-boiled heir to Hammett and Chandler, but Lehane also takes a page from the Hemingway school of hyper-intense writing. He pares away and pares away until he's left with the absolute essentials--and then those essentials just explode off the page.

In his five Kenzie-Gennaro novels, the detective duo is at the nexus of Lehane's big bang. Darkly funny and just this side of jaded, Angie and Patrick move through Dorchester's bleak streets with an assurance born of familiarity. It's impossible to imagine these streets without the pair, or to imagine the pair away from those streets. Mystic River, then, arrives as a bit of a gamble, as Lehane moves from the sharp edges of portraiture to the broader strokes of landscape. No Angie, no Patrick: this neighborhood is on its own. It's not any prettier and certainly no friendlier, and its working-class façade still barely masks the irresistible tug of violent ways, means, and ends.

Twenty-five years ago, Dave Boyle got into a car. When he came back four days later, he was different in a way that destroyed his friendship with Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus. Now Sean's a cop, Jimmy's a store owner with a prison record and mob connections, and Dave's trying hard to keep his demons safely submerged. When Jimmy's daughter Katie is found murdered, each of the men must confront a past that none is eager to acknowledge. Lehane tugs delicately on the strands that weave this neighborhood together, testing for their strengths and weaknesses; this novel seems as much anthropological case study as thriller.

By turns violent and pensive, Mystic River is vintage Lehane. How good is it? You may go in missing Angie and Patrick, but after a few pages you won't even realize they're gone. Lehane's noir is still black magic. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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