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Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | July 29, 2009 |

By Genny (also Rusty) | Books | July 29, 2009 |

Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is a disorienting read. It is narrated from the perspective of US Marshall Teddy Daniels, and the questions that hangs over most of the novel is the question of Teddy’s sanity. Is he paranoid or right? Is he a man haunted by some past demons or one controlled by them? Can we actually trust anything he tells us, or can we only trust what he tells us? The more you read, the less certain you are of any of this.

Shutter Island starts with Teddy and his new partner, Chuck Aule, going to investigate the disappearance of a patient behind held at a hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island near Boston. The patient, called Rachel Solando, disappeared from a locked room in the middle of the night, past guards and onto an island that’s 11 miles from shore, yet there’s no trace of her. However, the longer Teddy and Chuck are on the island, the more you find out that Rachel’s not the only reason they came to the island and begin to wonder if they were deliberately brought there somehow. All the doctors, nurses, and even some patients seem to be in on something that Teddy and Chuck aren’t being told, and when Teddy reveals his ulterior motives for wanting to investigate the island all bets are off.

The conclusion (or “twist”) at the end of Shutter Island is satisfying. And, as good twists generally do, it sheds just enough new light on all the preceding events to make them worthwhile. One of my biggest pet peeves in literature and movies is when the twist at the end doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie or illuminate it in any new way, because it leaves you wondering why, exactly, you sat through everything that came before the ending. Lehane avoids that trap, and makes the twist a somewhat believable but tragic reveal about the true nature of several characters.

Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is a quick and intriguing read good for anyone who enjoys suspense type novels.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Genny (also Rusty)’s review, check her blog, Rusty’s Ventures.