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Shutter Island: A Novel [Hardcover]

Dennis Lehane
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book Feb. 13 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 was going on. Interesting book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars subtle menace Feb. 4 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This intriguing novel starts quietly, mild conflicts and suggested menace not taking enough form for the reader yet to grasp. I had to read the blurb on the back cover to continue through the first few chapters where nothing on the surface seemed to happen except a vague sense of unreality. But pay attention. Things are happening every minute in all directions.

The writing is stunning. Lehane is a master of the slow, inexorable build-up of subtle pressures, ever wider, ever deeper. The reader must put all his senses on alert, watch every word, especially of the back-story continually woven into the present story. And each time an element of backstory is repeated, another layer is added. It's the construction of a complex edifice one brick at a time. Never have I been so drawn onward by dialogue. You can hear in your ear the staccato, sardonic exchanges between Chuck and Teddy, vital to the plot line, and evidence on the first page of an old friendship between strangers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Lehane - Again May 9 2003
Format:Hardcover
First there were the noir detective books. Then "Mystic River", which was 70-80% different. "Shutter Island" is a 100% switch from either of those. I was fortunate enough to purchase mine at a book signing where Lehane answered questions for about an hour. He has taught writing extensively and is a very patient, cordial and articulate inverview (not all writers speak well). Lehane said something that helps understand all his work, but especially this one. He said his stories are about people who strive and strive for what they want, only to wind up with what they need instead, and is makes their soul whole. "Shutter Island" is a very tight (we know what the main character, Teddy, knows - period), freightening story. Still, Lehane laces his outstanding literary skills and fantastic story line with his usual humorous passages, and his wonderful, punchy descriptive metapors. "Shutter Island" is not literally a haunted castle story. All the characters are "real" (human) and there are no ghosts or other-world beings. But it is absolutely, positively the best haunted castle tale I have ever read. This book goes on my list of all-time favorites.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible psychological thriller July 4 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A couple of Federal Marshalls arrive on an isolated island that houses a high-security Federal prison for criminally insane. They were summoned to investigate a disappearance of a female inmate. They start suspecting that the staff of the prison is not as cooperative as they could be, and Marshalls start suspecting that behind the façade of the mental institution there is a much more sinister operation. This in a nutshell, without giving away any plot details, is the premise of the latest Dennis Lahene novel.

The plot description in itself does not even begin to do the justice to this gripping and harrowing story. Until now I have only been familiar with Lahene through the movie adaptations of his novels, and Shutter Island has also been made into a movie that will scheduled to come out in a couple of months. The previews of the movie seemed very intriguing, and they spurred me to take a look at the novel itself. I was not disappointed in the least. "Shutter Island" has all the elements of a great novel: an intriguing story with many plot twists, a flowing narrative that keeps you interested and guides you from one scene to another, rich, fully developed characters, and an ending that will both surprise you and satisfy you, and make you want to go back and reread the whole novel. The novel is a psychological thriller in two senses of the term. You are constantly intrigued by the states of mind of the main character and much of the most interesting scenes are in the minds of the main characters. Furthermore, by setting the novel in a mental institution the psychological and psychiatric profession becomes a major part of the story. Even so, the narrative evokes some very strong visual impressions, and there is no doubt that it will make a great movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
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
4.0 out of 5 stars THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM...
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane's books 'Mystic River' and 'Gone Baby Gone' have been made into movies that I have enjoyed tremendously and so I decided to read one of his books before it was turned... Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2009 by Book Worm
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Thriller
There's always something about asylums that have always given off an uncomfortable feeling. The way Lehane writes in this novel really expresses the uneasiness and queasiness about... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2009 by Karoline
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written, intensely disturbing
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... Read more
Published on March 26 2006 by Freda Loro
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