Mystic River is a good mystery, and a terrific novel. Its characters and setting are irresistible. Lehane's skill is awesome; he manages to write exactly what I want to read: a novel that creates a world that draws me in, a world that I am loath to leave behind when I read the last page and put the book down.
We are introduced to the three main characters in their childhood. Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle are pre-teens living in what is probably a part of Greater Boston which Lehane calls Buckingham. There is an incident, Dave is kidnapped by two men, but he escapes several days later and is returned to the neighborhood.
Many years and events later, the three are brought together by tragedy. Sean has become a State Trooper. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a store, and Dave has a nondescript job about which we hear little. As the action begins, explodes, and the investigation and mystery progress, we learn more and more about these three men, their families, and their past and present lives. They become more and more real, more three-dimensional.
The mystery itself is a good one. I can brag that I figured it out at about the 70% point, but that didn't spoil it for me, as I couldn't really be sure. And the mystery, while it's every bit true to the form and strong enough to stand alone, is not all there is to this book. We are every bit as involved in the nature and lives of these men, and how they will each deal with what life has dealt them.
While I enjoyed Moonlight Mile quite a bit, I think that Mystic River better reveals the talent of this powerful writer.
A Publisher's Weekly review of the book
The Mystic River entry in Wikipedia (about the river, not the book -- but see the "disambiguation page" for more)
IMDb entry for the movie made of Mystic River
A New York Times review of the movie
A New York Times Sunday Book Review interview with Dennis Lehane
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