In this Shelf Indulgence, I focus on Mystic River – Dennis Lehane’s most compelling novel. Lehane has it all: elegant prose and gripping action; he can create a memorable character with a few strokes of the pen; his dialogue can make you laugh out loud, or it can flood you with emotion that grabs you by the throat and will not let go.
With Mystic River Lehane is at the height of his powers. He understands what violence does to victims and those who investigate it; he has the skill and courage to make his readers feel, but he never confuses sentiment with sentimentality. He builds tension till it crackles like static before a storm, yet you never get the sense that he is using writerly tricks. In Lehane’s writing the aftermath of violent crime doesn’t merely extend for weeks or months, but for an entire lifetime. He writes about loving families and destructive families, and the effect that the one can have on the other. Mystic River is my all-time favourite. Buy it, you won’t regret it.
Buy Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
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