23/40: Mystic River (by Dennis Lehane)

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Mystic River

by Dennis Lehane

Cover by Chip Kidd

Originally published in 2001 by William Morrow

“Chip Kidd” edition published in 2003 by William Morrow Paperbacks

WHO: Nineteen-year old Katie Marcus disappears one night.

WHAT: Her father, Jimmy Marcus (an ex-con) and Sean Devine (state police detective), once childhood friends-of-a-sort, both work to find out what happened and whodunit along separate lines of inquiry. Another childhood compatriot, Danny Boyle, gets mixed up in the mess.

WHERE: The story takes place in the last of the old Boston neighborhoods, Buckingham Flats…

WHEN: as 21st century developers encroach to make over Southie.

WHY/HOW: Sean is coming in after a week-long suspension for a professional infraction. He is chosen by another detective to work the case that has fallen in state jurisdiction. The  fact that Sean knows the Marcus family seems not to be a conflict of interest. Anyway, Jimmy, though having gone legit as a shop owner, is still connected and has the resources to pursue the matter.

+ Brilliantly constructed plot-wise.

+ Evokes the old neighborhoods in terms of look and feel of the way things were. For those who remember the neighborhoods, even as late as the the early to mid-eighties, this is powerfully nostalgic.

+ Characters are realistic, meaning they aren’t caricatures (like Bubba from the Kenzie/Genaro series) or cinematic in vision. 

+ There are scenes of intense poignancy, which make it worth reading even if you saw the movie (which is also very good even though a plot spoiler if you saw it before reading the book.)

This makes the Kenzie/Genaro series look like crap. It’s especially hard to explain Moonlight Mile (2010) after you’ve seen what Lehane can do. Actually, Moonlight Mile is difficult to explain as anything but a tired write-off of the series, but still the difference in quality between Moonlight Mile and Mystic River is leagues apart.

OTHER: I purchased a print copy of Mystic River (by Dennis Lehane.)  I apologize, but I do not remember who I purchased it from! I am also saddened to say that I left my copy of the book at a cabin in Maine and did not note the passage that I wanted to quote in reference to Chip Kidd’s cover. In essence, Sean Devine is in a car cruising along the highway at night and the colors and light are sweeping past him. The passage is easy to blow past, but to me it stood out as a direct link between the story and the art work.

 I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! 😉

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