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Review: Shutter Island

April 25, 2009

Dennis Lehane seems to operate on two distinct levels, the first is his seemingly innocuous “boys own” adventure stories, his Kenzie and Gennaro thrillers and his more realistic, multi-layered (ugh) works.

However, in all his works he makes room to write about social issues, issues about the working-class; sometimes Irish-American, sometimes African-American. Of course, it never seems to be force-fed, never “let’s save society’s’ ills”.

I like Lehane’s novels. The Kenzie and Gennaro thrillers are at times ridiculous, over-the-top and bordering on make-believe. They are also extremely fun and easy reads.

So, when it came to Shutter Island I was looking forward to it. When I finished, I was in two minds; one was that it was completely silly and the other was a quick and simple read.

I’m not going to go into the plot (I don’t actually tend to talk about plot when I’m reviewing), as any summary would spoil the novel. It is a mystery, and, hell, an exploration of a mans’ inner demons, his inability to cope or, rather, his way of dealing with a traumatic event.

However, it doesn’t really tell us much, it never dwells too deeply into the mans’ psychosis. And maybe that wasn’t the point. It’s an implausible mystery, with so-so characters constructed to fit a certain criteria; you’ve got the friendly doctor, the buddy partner, the crazy inmates.

Well, final thoughts, this book is okay; it is contrived, the characters are weak but because it is Lehane, you can expect to have an easy time reading it. I wouldn’t recommend reading it before reading his other novels.

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