After reading Mystic River, I was eager to get my hands on Shutter Island. I wondered if it would be as compelling, and thought that perhaps Lehane had already set his bar so high with Mystic River, he'd have a hard time topping it. Sorry Dennis, I should have had more faith in you.
What sets Lehane apart from so many authors, other than his brilliant storytelling and clever plot twists, is his ability to get inside the charaters' minds, the way he can take a guy's heart and soul and present it on a platter, show us all the nasty bits, so to speak. His characters are so real, so three-dimensional that sometimes I forget I'm reading fiction.
Having said that, I had a difficult time rating this book. I had a tough time with the ending, not because it was disappointing or unbelievable or poorly written (Lehane couldn't write poorly in his sleep), but because it was so intensely disturbing -- not something I'd necessarily recommend anyone rush out and read. Now, I like a bit of grit; I have a morbid fascination with the dark side, however, there's a fine line between entertainingly gritty and downright brutal, and Lehane soared over that line in leaps and bounds. Granted, he did it very well. So, in the end, I couldn't give this book anything less than five stars.
I'd like to read Shutter Island again someday, pick up the clues that I'd missed the first go round, but I think I'll give it a rest for now, perhaps get into something a little lighter, a little easier on the psyche, a little less emotionally taxing.
Nick Hornby, anyone?