Wednesday, November 4, 2009 By: Suzanne

Mystic River

It's been awhile since I've posted a review a book. I believe the last one was Golden City and even then I had not blogged about a many books for awhile before that. I'm going to post a few over the next few days so don't start running virus scans wondering if I was infected with a blogging virus and you will be next. This is for real.

Mystic River is probably the most widely known book by Dennis Lehane. I know I hadn't read anything by him before this and I'm not sure I would have if it wasn't for the movie that came out a few years ago with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins (two of my favorite actors ever). Oddly enough I don't really remember much about the movie, except something terrible happened to one of the boys when he was young, there's a dead girl, and maybe the two are connected somehow. You'd think a movie like this with these wonderful actors would have made a bigger impression. I do know that I liked it a lot, enough to think maybe I'd try reading the book.

Apparently, Dennis Lehane is known for writing crime dramas. I don't know why this surprised me, since that's basically what Mystic River is, but I have a vision in my head of crime drama books and it's not a good one. It usually involves some cop or private investigator with a terrible personal life, going through some horrible shit of his own while he investigates a terribly boring murder of a young girl that I solved in the first 30 pages. Except for the last part, Mystic River on the surface fits that to a tee. It's all the underlying factors and relationships that make this book so much more than that. I would have placed this book not with mysteries and crime dramas, but with general fiction. If you could categorize the large general fiction section down I might place this book with ones by Wally Lamb and Jodi Picoult. It's the relationships between people that is the draw for me and Mystic River has those relationships knocking into each other on every page.

At the heart of the novel are three boys: Jimmy, Sean, and Dave. When they are 11 years old, Dave is kidnapped by two child molesters while playing with Jimmy and Sean. This incident is a constant factor in their lives for many years, even after they are grown with children of their own. When they are in their 30s, Jimmy's daughter is brutally murdered and Sean is the lead investigator on the case. Jimmy and Dave are now related through marriage and the three men are thrust together again by this tragedy.

You could not find three more different men than Jimmy, Sean, and Dave and if circumstances had not brought them together, I doubt any of them would be friends with the other. We all have these people in our lives, people who are friends simply because they were around when we were children or because we see them everyday at work. In a different situation, we wouldn't have two words to say to each other outside of everyday stranger-small-talk (which I personally hate and don't do very well as a consequence). It seemed to me these men would have made a fascinating story without the death and search for a killer. It almost felt as if the murder investigation was the secondary story to the interaction of these childhood friends. And that makes a good book no matter what the genre.


fredamans said...

I loved the movie!! Great review!!!

stacybuckeye said...

I saw the movie when it came out a remember exactly the very little you did! I listened to his book, Shutter Island - soon to be a movie with Leo DiCaprio - and thought it was good. I'll have to look for Mystic River.