Friday, January 21, 2011

Shutter Island

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Hardcover , 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9780688163174
very highly recommended

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

My Thoughts:

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is an atmospheric psychological thriller set in the 1950's on Shutter Island where Ashecliffe Hospital, an asylum for the criminally insane, is located. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have been sent there to investigate a missing patient, Rachel Solando, but things are not as they seem. Teddy also has another agenda, the asylum seems to hold other, more sinister secrets, and a real storm is brewing off the ocean.

The setting and tone are both dark in Shutter Island, which helps establish the atmosphere and create a feeling of foreboding. I read that Lehane wrote the dialogue based on early B detective movies and I really appreciated learning that. It also help establish a sense of time and place for me. Shutter Island is plot driven and Lehane did an outstanding job developing the story - the slowly revealed twists, the doubt creeping in as the investigation continues, the surprise ending.

I haven't seen the movie based on the book, but I can tell you that the book is great. While I did easily figure out the clues left for the reader half-way through the novel (and I don't think Lehane was trying to prevent that from happening),it only enhanced the suspense and the ending did still hold several surprises. Be forewarned that Shutter Island is dark, tense, and has some violence.
Very Highly Recommended


May 3, 1993
I haven't laid eyes on the island in several years. The last time was from a friend's boat that ventured into the outer harbor, and I could see it off in the distance, past the inner ring, shrouded in the summer haze, a careless smudge of paint against the sky.
I haven't stepped foot on it in more than two decades, but Emily says (sometimes joking, sometimes not) that she's not sure I ever left. She once said that time is nothing to me but a series of bookmarks that I use to jump back and forth through the text of my life, returning again and again to the events that mark me, in the eyes of my more astute colleagues, as bearing all the characteristics of the classic melancholic. opening

I want to write these things down, then. Not to alter the text so that I fall under a more favorable light. No, no. He would never allow that. In his own peculiar way, he hates lies more than anyone I have ever known. pg. 4

He would prefer to do just about anything - swim in that water even - rather than speak of Dolores, of the facts of her being on this earth for thirty-one years and then ceasing to be. Just like that. pg. 20

He said to Chuck, "Heard much about this place?"
"A mental hospital, that's about all I know."
"For the criminally insane," Teddy said. pg. 22

"You gentlemen will be accorded all the courtesies we have to offer, all the help we can give. During your stay, however short that may be, you will obey protocol. Is that understood?"
Teddy nodded and Chuck said, "Absolutely."
McPherson fixed his eyes on a point just above their heads. "Dr. Cawley will explain the finer points of protocol to you, I'm sure, but I have to stress the following: unmonitored contact with patients of this institution is forbidden. Is that understood?" pg. 27

"There is no facility like his in the United States. We take only the most damaged patients. We take the ones no other facility can manage." pg. 32

"We know a female prisoner is missing." Teddy placed his notebook on his knee, flipped the pages. "A Rachel Solando."
"Patient." Cawley gave them a dead smile.
"Patient," Teddy said. "I apologize. We understand she escaped within the last twenty-four hours." pg. 35


Literary Feline said...

I had the chance to read this last year and enjoyed it. I love the way Lehane writes and is able to create such atmosphere in in his novels.

Lori L said...

I know I read your review and that could be what had me put Shutter Island on my TBR list, Wendy. It was certainly worth the wait!

Lisa said...

I also enjoyed this one a lot. I just found it on Netflix for the Wii tonight and added it to my instant queue then saw your review!

Lori L said...

I think I'm going to watch the movie sometime... I heard it follows the book pretty closely and the book was great.

samantha.1020 said...

I read and enjoyed this book last ended up being on my top ten reads of last year. And the movie is pretty solid as well. I still go back on forth on the ending and probably will reread the book at some point. Great review!

Lori L said...

Thanks, Samantha! I think rereading Shutter Island would be a good idea for the future. I bet there are other subtle clues I missed that I would pick up with a reread now that I know the ending.