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Mystic River Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 30, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 960 customer reviews

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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

From Publishers Weekly

Lehane ventures beyond his acclaimed private eye series with this emotionally wrenching crime drama about the effects of a savage killing on a tightly knit, blue-collar Boston neighborhood. Written with a sensitivity toward character that exceeds his previous efforts, the story tracks the friendship of three boys from a defining moment in their childhood, when 11-year-old Dave Boyle was abducted off the streets of East Buckingham and sexually molested by two men before managing to escape. Boyle, Jimmy Marcus and Sean Devine grow apart as the years pass, but a quarter century later they are thrust back together when Marcus's 19-year-old daughter, Katie, is murdered in a local park. Marcus, a reformed master thief turned family man, goes through a period of intense grief, followed by a thirst for revenge. Devine, now a homicide cop assigned to the murder, tries to control his old friend while working to make sense of the baffling case, which involves turning over the past as much as it does sifting through new evidence. In time, Devine begins to suspect Boyle, a man of many ghoulish secrets who has led a double life ever since the molestation. Lehane's story slams the reader with uncomfortable images, a beautifully rendered setting and an unnerving finale. With his sixth novel, the author has replaced the graphic descriptions of crime and violence found in his Patrick Kenzie-Angela Gennaro series (Prayers for Rain; Gone, Baby, Gone) with a more pensive, inward view of life's dark corners. It's a change that garners his themesAregret over life choices, the psychological imprints of childhood, personal and professional compromiseAa richer context and his characters a deeper exploration. Agent, Ann Rittenberg. (Feb. 6) Forecast: Given the excitement in-house at Morrow that this is Lehane's breakthrough book, and the promotion they're placing behind it, it stands an excellent chance of leaping straight onto the bestseller lists. A one-day laydown, $250,000 ad-promo and an 11-city author tour, plus a blurb from Michael Connelly designating Lehane as "the heir apparent," should provide the groundwork for explosive sales. Rights have been sold in the U.K., France and Germany, and there will be a large-print edition as well as an audio from Harper Audio.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688163165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688163167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (960 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are authors and then there are GREAT authors. MYSTIC RIVER just proves that Dennis Lehane has risen to the "great author" category. I'm familiar with Lehane's work having already read four books in his Patrick and Angie series. But nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for the greatness of MYSTIC RIVER.
Everything in this book is real -- so real that you actually feel like you're living in the "Flats" even though you've never set foot anywhere near that part of the United States. Perhaps growing up in Brooklyn enabled me to relate to the people living on the so-called "opposite side of the tracks" because I was friends with many of them. Every city has this section. Those who live in it want to get out and those who live outside of it would like, in some small way, to be a part of it. It's a place where the residents look out for their own, sometimes having to take justice into their own hands to see that it is properly served.
We meet the three main characters, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus and Dave Boyle, when they are young boys playing together in the streets. When we meet them again, they are grown men -- one a homicide detective, one an ex-con who has lived the straight life for fifteen years and one a husband and father plagued by demons.
Lehane explores the "what if" scenario by reminding us that "if" it had rained in Dallas on that fateful day, Kennedy would not have been in a convertible. The big "what if" in this book centers around an occurrence that happened when the boys were not yet twelve years old and one of them was taken away in a car by pedophiles posing as cops. The big "what if" was how life would have been for the other two had they also gotten into the car.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading is my passion. I have books piled up all over my room just waiting to be read. Although I enjoy most books, I read so many of them that often, by the time I'm halfway into a new one, I have already forgotten most of what I read in the previous book. But there are a handfull of books that made such an impression on me, that their stories stay with me long after I've finished them. Some, I doubt, I will ever forget. Dennis Lehane's "Mystic River" is one of those. I had only read one other Lehane book - "Praying for Rain" - which was a good crime thriller. Mystic River, however, is entirely different. It does involve a murder, but it is so much more than a crime thriller. It is a psychological masterpiece. The main characters, Dave Boyle, Jimmy Marcus, and Sean Devine, grow up as childhood friends. One day Dave suddenly disappears in a car with two men. He returns a changed and damaged child, but what happened while he was gone remains his secret. The book moves ahead twenty-five years. All three have now grown up, having taken completely different paths in life. When Jimmy Marcus' daugher is murdered, the story takes off as Sean, now a homicide detective, takes on the case. But the meat of the story involves the personal demons that haunt all three men, and the effects those demons have on their marriages, families and their lives. This is not a classic whodunit. Lehane does not throw out little tidbits to throw the reader off from guessing who killed Katie, the murdered girl. In fact, so wrapped up in the lives of the three men, their wives and families, that we almost don't care who the murderer really is. There is a lot of darkness in this book as Lehane deftly developes these tragic characters.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Dennis Lehane has done it again! I started to read this book on a U.S. to Canada flight, and could scarce tear my nose out of it to clear customs and pick up my bags. Thank heavens we arrived late evening so I could head for bed to finish one of the most exciting, delightful and satisfying reads I've ever enjoyed. I read several books a week and I can't remember when I've been so transported and enthraled.
Now, in case you haven't guessed I'm a big fan of Lehane. Since his first book, Shamus Award winner, A Drink Before The War to last year's Prayers For Rain I love everything he's written and he just keeps getting better and better. Mystic River is different than his previous books in that it is not part of his Boston P.I. Patrick Kenzie series. But don't worry. The magic that makes Dennis Lehane such a powerful writer is all here in Mystic River and it is here in abundance. Lehane gets inside the characters' minds and with masterful twists and turns persents a psychological thriller that is second to none.
This alone would qualify Mystic River as a must read. But, as always, Lehane presents, like a Shakesperian play, a story that can be enjoyed on many levels, and like the best masters of the English language he does so in prose of seemingly effortless beauty. Just reading a Lehane paragraph is a delicious, sensious experience! And yet language and image never get in the way of the characters and the story. Above all, Lehane is a story teller.
Mystic River begins in Lehane's familiar back yard of Boston where we meet three children. Friends whose childhood will mark them forever. They will meet again and even knowing what we know, we don't know how deep the darkness runs. As the dust jacket says, this is an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family.
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