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I hit a dry spell in finding new novels that would engage my interest. As a result, I started searching for notable American novels I missed during the height of their popularity. Mystic River shows up on every book critic’s top 25 lists of great American modern novels. Since I had not seen the movie, I gave it a listen.
It would be misleading to characterize Mystic River (MR) as a murder mystery or detective story. Any reader who watched more than three episodes of “Law & Order” will figure out the mystery of MR by the end of the fourth chapter. The value of MR comes in the author’s, Dennis Lahane, skills at making the reader feel the anguish of the characters and intensity of the storyline. MR is a dark serious drama devoid of humor. The three main characters carry a deep sense of misery and psychological trauma that cannot be conventionally expressed due the machismo cultural standards of South Boston. The culture of machismo results in a basic breakdown in social communication, isolation, rejection, and pointless death. Lahane expertly takes the reader into an insular community where most of us would rarely venture. MR is always moving toward the conclusion, where the reader feels a tension similar to watching a car speeding obliviously in the wrong direction of a busy one way street and waiting for the eventual crash. The drama of the book occurs as characters rush to judgments based on community standards and spurious information.
Although the audio book runs roughly 15 hours, every detail is important to understanding the eventual finale. The interplay between the environment and characters makes this book special. After completing the book I watched the film. MR the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, is almost 100% faithful to the book in plot and tone. I recommend reading MR instead of watching the film to capture Lahane’s masterful writing. However, if you already watched the film, the book will lose much of its punch.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
I love Dennis Lehane and have listed to several books narrated by Scott Brick. Neither let me down. Excellent narration. Excellent crime and psychological thriller. I thought the three main characters were well developed and I really got to know them. I had seen the movie and still I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this audiobook. It will stick with you a long time.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful