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Shutter Island: A Novel [Hardcover]

Dennis Lehane
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2003 Lehane, Dennis

Summer, 1954.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.

And neither is Teddy Daniels.

Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe’s radical approach to psychiatry? An approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing. . . .

Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?

As the investigation deepens, the questions only mount:

How has a barefoot woman escaped the island from a locked room?

Who is leaving clues in the form of cryptic codes?

Why is there no record of a patient committed there just one year before?

What really goes on in Ward C?

Why is an empty lighthouse surrounded by an electrified fence and armed guards?

The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they may never leave Shutter Island.Because someone is trying to drive them insane. . . .

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Know this: Lehane's new novel, his first since the highly praised and bestselling Mystic River, carries an ending so shocking yet so faithful to what has come before, that it will go down as one of the most aesthetically right resolutions ever written. But as anyone who has read him knows, Lehane, despite his mastery of the mechanics of suspense, is about much more than twists; here, he's in pursuit of the nature of self-knowledge and self-deception, and the ways in which both can be warped by violence and evil. In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals' digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel's apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path-most notably by the hospital's chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley-and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife-are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart. There is no mystery, however, about how good this book is; like Mystic River, it's a tour de force.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Lehane is red hot--his Mystic River (2001) is currently being filmed by Clint Eastwood--and he returns with another blistering page-turner. It's 1954, and U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule arrive at a small island in Massachusetts' Outer Harbor. It is home to Ashcliffe Hospital, a federal institution for the criminally insane, and one of the patients has escaped. Although the two men are new partners, they have already developed a wry, jocular relationship while also swapping personal, painful details. Daniels' lost his much-loved wife two years prior in a fire, while Aule requested a transfer out of Seattle after being harassed over his personal relationship with a Japanese American woman. After interviewing the hospital's medical personnel, both men have the feeling they are being stonewalled, especially by the director, who seems to alternate between a cold authoritarianism and a sudden and sweeping compassion. When the island is hit by gale-force winds and Aule disappears, Daniels must go it alone, beset by the fear that he has been fed psychotropic drugs and the belief that the hospital is performing radical brain surgery as part of a secret-ops program. Lehane throws in one mind-bending plot twist after another in a psychological thriller that will leave readers in suspense right up to the end. A master of the adroit psychological detail, Lehane makes the horrors of the mean streets pale in comparison to the workings of the human mind. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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TEDDY DANIELS'S FATHER had been a fisherman. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Thriller Oct. 9 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've just finished reading this page-turner and it was absolutely mind-blowing. I couldn't put it down, and after I finished it, I went back and re-read the first few chapters to pick up on clues I missed.

The book starts out slow over the first few pages with a flashback and Lehane uses many more flashbacks during the novel that I initially thought slowed down the story.

I won't spoil anything, but the story is crafted wonderfully and every scene becomes relevant as the ending unfolds.

This is a great book for the reader who likes a surprise. I thought I had guessed the outcome of many situations and the author managed to flip them around on me still.

I definitely recommened Shutter Island (and I agree with a previous reviwere who suggested finding someone else who has read the book so you can discuss it when you finish). It is something that you will think about long after finishing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but predictable ending July 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Shutter Island is about two federal marshals who go to Shutter Island to investigate a prisoner escape. The island houses a prison for the criminally insane, and upon arrival, they find out that much has been covered-up with respect to this escape. The more they probe, the more questions they have, and soon their vision of reality breaks down as they begin to discover a conspiracy beyond their wildest imaginations.

I liked Shutter Island. I love codes, and mysteries, and such, so this was quite a good read for me. Unfortunately, I did see the ending coming, because it seems to be the thing to do these days. I'm not sure how many people it actually surprised, but it didn't surprise me, and that ruined it a little for me. It just seemed that it's been done so much, whether in Fight Club or The Magus decades before.

It's quite a concidence that I just read John Fowles' The Magus a few months ago, and the resemblance between the two books are uncanny. In The Magus, it is about this English schoolteacher who meets this eccentric millionaire on a remote Greek island, who employs questionable methods of psychiatry to cure schizophrenic patients, and where he soon finds out that they mounted an elaborate play for his benefit. Sound familiar?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fiendish, Absolutely Fiendish July 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Shutter Island is a terrifying novel that chilled me to the bone. It played the hugest trick on me of any book that I have ever read. During the last couple of chapters I had this feeling of absolute disbelief - could this really be happening? Surely the book couldn't end this way. Please don't let it end this way! But it did. Bloody hell, I thought the ending to Hannibal by Thomas Harris was nasty. In this book, the ending is fiendish.
The characters were all described very well and with lots of imagination. Teddy Daniels is a US Marshal and the year is 1954. He is investigating Shutter Island with his new partner US Marshal Chuck Aule. You feel great sympathy for Teddy as his past is revealed - the death of his lovely wife Dolores and his violent clashes in the war. All this is written about in the most beautiful language. The scenes where Teddy goes back over his overpowering love for Dolores are particularly poignant.
Dennis Lehane draws you in to the plot by creating vivid characters, scenery, intrigue, mystery and clues at every turn. And then he calmly proceeds to turn everything inside out in the most shocking way possible. The plot was terrifyingly plausible and the last couple of chapters so hideous that they defy words.
Overall this is a great novel. Great in its ability to deceive and shock. Can I honestly say that I enjoyed reading it? Well, with tears falling down my cheeks as I got through the final chapters, I came to the conclusion that no, it had not been an enjoyable reading experience! Somehow I suspect Lehane never intended it to be. But he did a fantastic job of scaring the life out of me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It will take your breath away! June 27 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dennis Lehane is a master. I started this book wondering if it could possibly be as good as Mystic River. Most certainly, it is. Edward (Teddy) Daniel and his partner, Chuck Aule, meet at the beginning of this book, on the boat to Shutter Island. They are both U.S. Marshals, called to aid in the search of an escaped inmate at an institution for the criminally insane. A hurricane hits. The reader follows Teddy and the plot through twists and turns to a place that one would never suspect. Along the way are several interesting characters, the least of which is Dr. Cawley. Is he what he seems? Is he conducting evil experiments in the light house, or is he a compassionate psychiatrist? Lehane takes you on a wild ride. Just when it seems the end must be in sight, another hairpin turn leaves you rocketing down a three story drop with your heart in your mouth.
Don't wait until everyone else has read it and told you about it. Read it now, before someone spoils the ending for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the jacket blurb -- it's actually good June 25 2004
Format:Audio CD
I can't believe I picked up this book. The jacket notes make it look like just another inmates-taking-over-the-asylum story, or some kind of Stephen King knockoff. Good gracious! Someone's trying to drive our hero insane in the insane asylum! Give me a break. I picked up the abridged CD at the library anyway, because I've listened to just about all their others. That's a problem with living in a small town and traveling a lot.
But it was good. I really enjoyed it. The story was enjoyable, good adventure, smooth story. Protagonist isn't just a dumb action figure, and is actually a pretty complex and likeable guy. The fellow reading on the CD has the right voice, gives good life to the characters. Even the abridged story was pretty seamless, something that doesn't happen enough. When the slips and twists start coming, you notice them as slips and twists instead of as annoying gaps in the story. That's not easy to do in a shortened novel.
Can't say too much about the story itself without either sounding like the nerd who wrote the marketing copy or ruining the story. Recommend listening hard to the seeming throwaway short narrative at the very beginning. After that, just go along for the ride.
Just read the thing. It's a fun one. -- RG
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging thriller
This was the first Lehane novel I read, after having seen two movies based on other works of his, Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, which I'd greatly enjoyed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Roy
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This was an book that was difficult to follow and kind of creepy. You never know if the main character is the one who should be locked up or if the facility was behind all that... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Marlyne Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle menace
This intriguing novel starts quietly, mild conflicts and suggested menace not taking enough form for the reader yet to grasp. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lyn Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible psychological thriller
A couple of Federal Marshalls arrive on an isolated island that houses a high-security Federal prison for criminally insane. Read more
Published on July 4 2011 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid psychological thriller
Though possibly better known for his Kenzie and Gennaro series of mystery novels (recommended to any fan of Michael Connely's or Jonathan Kellerman's), here Lehane leaves the tough... Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2011 by Andre Farant
This is a highly original thriller with gothic overtones. Taking place in 1954, it is quite atmospheric and redolent of the times. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2011 by Lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars `How much violence, Marshal, do you think a man can carry before it...
In the summer of 1954, US Marshal Teddy Daniels travels to Shutter Island, home of the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2010 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective
I rate this product zero because it was defective and the book was printed wrong so it could not be read. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2010 by Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars gives an erie feeling
this book is chilling and suspensefull
i read it in two days and it played on my mind relentlessly for days afterwords. Read more
Published on March 23 2010 by Christine Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut and gripping
This is a prime example of an author who truly knows the value of good storytelling. Dennis Lehane has spun a masterful tale, providing colourful description to create engaging... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2010 by Liana
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