Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

When readers describe a book as being a page-turner, do you believe them? I tend to be skeptical. Admittedly, it’s an overused term and I try not to use it. Much. To consider a book a page-turner is high praise and for me, books like that are rare. Anyway, I picked up Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island” (2003) when it first came out and read the first chapter and immediately set it aside. It was so slow! Plus, I was really wanting him to get back to the Patrick/Angie series that I enjoyed so much.

Well, after waiting him out for several years, I caved and gave “Shutter Island” another look. I finally got past chapter one and after chapter three, I found myself unable to put this book down. I stayed up late reading knowing I had to get up early the next morning. I would think about this story while at work and would rush home, lock my door so I wouldn’t be disturbed. The story, literally, took off after the first three chapters. Talk about a high octane story.

The premise: two federal agents arrive on Shutter Island to investigate a missing patient. For added fun, a hurricane is headed towards the island and knocks off the power, leaving the island completely closed off. The rest of the story is a like a wonderful, intense psychological mind game racing toward the finish line.The burning question I had though was: how in the world did a mental patient escape off an island that is surrounded by water and rock?

The story has a gothic feel to it that I loved. There’s a sense of urgency for the truth behind a war widow’s disappearance from a locked down institution for the criminally insane. As you read, things are not what they seem or appear to be. You are fervently trying to figure out what is going on and trying to sort out what’s real and what’s not?

The author did a wonderful job with the atmosphere of the story. That ending though. What a surprise! Endings like that are why I read. I like surprises and I think I understand the ending. Readers today still are searching for an explanation. Can anyone really explain that ending? I know Dennis Lehane has not officially said anything as far as I know. He leaves it up for readers to interpret.

I haven’t seen the movie and don’t really care to ever watch it. If you like puzzles, I think you would enjoy this book just for the sheer fun of analyzing and tearing apart the story & that ending. A taut mystery that grips you and won’t let you go? That’s “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane. A+ read. I’m sure the book has flaws but I was too busy turning the pages (read as swiping my phone) to really care. Read this book. It is seriously good.

Ran across a few articles since reading “Shutter Island” that may whet your appetite to read the book or maybe not.
Interview: Dennis Lehane Talks Shutter Island and Martin Scorsese
The Obsession In Shutter Island (Daily Beast, Feb 2010)

About Keishon

Romance reader now mystery reader. I enjoy all types of fiction but for the past 5 years I've enjoyed reading crime fiction. Please email me with recommendations or gush about your favorite writer! I love to hear from readers!
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2 Responses to Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

  1. Maxine says:

    The cheat twist in this novel (which I read about as long ago as your first attempt, maybe longer) made me throw the book across the room. I don’t recall all of the many details except that it made no sense to me either. I did recently see the movie on TV which simplified it all so that it did make sense – but the story seemed very shallow to me, and far too upsetting in theme for the points it was making (or not making). Also the cheat twist was not a problem for me in the film, probably because you could see from the first shot of the two men that one of them was, well, not quite right, and it was played this way throughout. (Trying not to give spoilers here.) I think the plot of the book was probably a lot more complicated than the film but I don’t think I can bear to go back to read the book again to find out!

    I wish he’d go back to his Angie series, too……


  2. Tee says:

    Once again, at your recommendation, I read this particular book, Keishon. I too found it slow going and you suggested I continue on. I’m glad I did. I really liked it a lot. I thought the ending was superb, in its twisted way. Wow, I was not prepared for that one.

    I hoped to see the movie, but my husband said he heard it was not all that good in relation to the book, so I’ve not bothered. But I may further on down the road, once it hits TV (maybe it already has). Just curious how they treated it. But knowing the ending may be a big spoiler for me in how I react to it.


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