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Mystic River

Dennis Lehane

Reluctantly, Sean Devine confronts the world of violence and pain when his childhood friend's daughter is murdered and the investigation brings him face-to-face with a vigilante killer and a man with a dangerous secret.


There are threads in our lives. You pull one, and everything else gets affected.


When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up their street. One boy got in 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 Devine is a homicide detective. Jimmy Marcus is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave Boyle is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay - demons that urge him to do horrific things.


When Jimmy Marcus' daughter is found murdered, Sean Devine is assigned to the case. His personal life unravelling, he must go back into a world he thought he'd left behind to confront not only the violence of the present but the nightmares of his past. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy Marcus, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave Boyle, who came home the night Jimmy's daughter died covered in someone else's blood...





We follow the lives of three friends growing up in a rundown working-class area of Boston. The boys, Jimmy, Dave and Sean, were struck by tragedy in 1975 when Dave was abducted by two men pretending to be cops when really they were child molesters. Dave escaped his captors but, when we meet him again in 200, he’s a damaged fantasist in a secure marriage. Jimmy is a reformed ex-con, while Sean is a homicide cop who must investigate the murder of Jimmy's daughter Katie. On the evening she was murdered Dave, who happened to be in one of the bars she had visited, came home covered in blood and claiming to have been mugged.


Lehane focuses on community and how neighbourhoods are changing. The narrative travels back and forth showing how the boys’ lives took the paths they did. Then there’s the character study. Examining their motivations and actions, showing how their decisions affect the present. The complexity of marriage and nature of relationships is explored. As is guilt. The main characters all question their own role in both Dave’s experience and Katie’s death whilst also passing judgement on one another. It all makes for a moving story about how you can’t escape your past. And, as you’d expect from Lehane, the dialogue is spot on.


Mystic River was made into an Academy Award winning film, also called Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon (Lehane can be briefly seen waving from a car in the parade scene at the end of the film).




About Dennis Lehane:

Born in in Dorchester, Boston (in 1966) where he grew up.

His first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award. Other books include Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile.

Lehane divides his time between the West Coast of Florida and Boston.

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