23/40: Mystic River (by Dennis Lehane)


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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