Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is a psychological thriller that was published way back in 2003. I bought it when it first came out but remembered that I just couldn’t get into it. I challenged myself to finish reading it this year and mission completed.
I was under the misguided impression that Lehane couldn’t possibly write anything of interest for me outside of his “Patrick/Angie books. Well, I was wrong. Shutter Island is a page-turner. A novel that plumbs the depths of the human psyche. A meaty psychological thriller that plays with the mind with a climatic ending that was both shocking and quite disturbing. Yep, my kind of novel.
The course of events in this story takes place in the early 1950’s. Two Federal agents, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are on the ferry heading towards Ashecliffe, a prison slash medical facility for the criminally insane located on Shutter Island. Their assignment is to locate a missing patient who is nowhere to be found on an island that is completely surrounded by water and rock. That missing patient is Rachel Solando, a war widow with a history of violence, who drowned her three children two years ago and who has vanished from her locked room without a trace.
The investigation into Rachel’s disappearance lasts four days and then the story is decidedly over. Throughout the course of the investigation the author has set the reader up and I will not elaborate on how he did this. The mood and atmosphere of the story were downright creepy and deliciously sinister. The thought of “mad scientists” practicing their radical therapies on unsuspecting patients is a bit scary. Second, there’s a major hurricane heading towards the island. Teddy and Chuck find themselves stuck on the island with no way to communicate off the island while conducting their investigation. It is then that Lehane amps up the suspense and I couldn’t stop reading.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a really good psychological thriller that plays with your head. It was such a quick read, too, that I had to go back to reread the story again, armed with the insight I gained from the ending. Lehane hit this one out of the ball park for me. Shutter Island was such a gripping and startling read that I just couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those novels that when you reach the end you have to discuss it with somebody. Thankfully, my mother had already read this book albeit a long time ago but she remembered the ending!
Shutter Island is a story that one doesn’t soon forget after the last page is turned. The novel really doesn’t get going until after the second or third chapter. The prologue effectively projects a sinister feeling from the start by raising an awareness that something bad has happened to one of these characters. You just don’t know who or what or how. Lehane, forgive me. How could I have ever doubted you? My grade, A. Would I reread this book again? You bet I would. This is a book that sparks discussion with other readers once it’s finished. If you haven’t read it yet – you should. You won’t be disappointed and if you are, I really don’t want to hear about it.
[tags]Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island, Mystery Review[/tags]