Shutter Island

Shutter Island

by Dennis Lehane


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In the year 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate an unexplained disappearance. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept under constant surveillance in a locked, guarded cell. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on the island, hints of radical experimentation and covert government machinations add darker, more sinister shades to an already bizarre case. Because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061898815
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 373
Sales rank: 60,757
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dennis Lehane is the author of nine previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile, as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

August 4, 1965

Place of Birth:

Dorchester, Massachusetts


B.A., Eckerd College, 1988; M.F.A., Florida International University, 1993

Read an Excerpt

Shutter Island
A Novel

Chapter One

Teddy Daniel's father had been a fisherman. He lost his boat to the bank in '31 when Teddy was eleven, spent the rest of his life hiring onto other boats when they had the work, unloading freight along the docks when they didn't, going long stretches when he was back at the house by ten in the morning, sitting in an armchair, staring at his hands, whispering to himself occasionally, his eyes gone wide and dark.

He'd taken Teddy out to the islands when Teddy was still a small boy, too young to be much help on the boat. All he'd been able to do was untangle the lines and tie off the hooks. He'd cut himself a few times, and the blood dotted his fingertips and smeared his palms.

They'd left in the dark, and when the sun appeared, it was a cold ivory that pushed up from the edge of the sea, and the islands appeared out of the fading dusk, huddled together, as if they'd been caught at something.

Teddy saw small, pastel-colored shacks lining the beach of one, a crumbling limestone estate on another. His father pointed out the prison on Deer Island and the stately fort on Georges. On Thompson, the high trees were filled with birds, and their chatter sounded like squalls of hail and glass.

Out past them all, the one they called Shutter lay like something tossed from a Spanish galleon. Back then, in the spring of '28, it had been left to itself in a riot of its own vegetation, and the fort that stretched along its highest point was strangled in vines and topped with great clouds of moss.

"Why Shutter?" Teddy asked.

His father shrugged. "You with the questions. Always the questions."

"Yeah, but why?"

"Some places just get a name and it sticks. Pirates probably."

"Pirates?" Teddy liked the sound of that. He could see them -- big men with eye patches and tall boots, gleaming swords.

His father said, "This is where they hid in the old days." His arm swept the horizon. "These islands. Hid themselves. Hid their gold."

Teddy imagined chests of it, the coins spilling down the sides.

Later he got sick, repeatedly and violently, pitching black ropes of it over the side of his father's boat and into the sea.

His father was surprised because Teddy hadn't begun to vomit until hours into the trip when the ocean was flat and glistening with its own quiet. His father said, "It's okay. It's your first time. Nothing to be ashamed of."

Teddy nodded, wiped his mouth with a cloth his father gave him.

His father said, "Sometimes there's motion, and you can't even feel it until it climbs up inside of you."

Another nod, Teddy unable to tell his father that it wasn't motion that had turned his stomach.

It was all that water. Stretched out around them until it was all that was left of the world. How Teddy believed that it could swallow the sky. Until that moment, he'd never known they were this alone.

He looked up at his father, his eyes leaking and red, and his father said, "You'll be okay," and Teddy tried to smile.

His father went out on a Boston whaler in the summer of '38 and never came back. The next spring, pieces of the boat washed up on Nantasket Beach in the town of Hull, where Teddy grew up. A strip of keel, a hot plate with the captain's name etched in the base, cans of tomato and potato soup, a couple of lobster traps, gap-holed and misshapen.

They held the funeral for the four fishermen in St. Theresa's Church, its back pressed hard against the same sea that had claimed so many of its parishioners, and Teddy stood with his mother and heard testimonials to the captain, his first mate, and the third fisherman, an old salt named Gil Restak, who'd terrorized the bars of Hull since returning from the Great War with a shattered heel and too many ugly pictures in his head. In death, though, one of the bartenders he'd terrorized had said, all was forgiven.

The boat's owner, Nikos Costa, admitted that he'd barely known Teddy's father, that he'd hired on at the last minute when a crew member broke his leg in a fall from a truck. Still, the captain had spoken highly of him, said everyone in town knew that he could do a day's work. And wasn't that the highest praise one could give a man?

Standing in that church, Teddy remembered that day on his father's boat because they'd never gone out again. His father kept saying they would, but Teddy understood that he said this only so his son could hold on to some pride. His father never acknowledged what had happened that day, but a look had passed between them as they headed home, back through the string of islands, Shutter behind them, Thompson still ahead, the city skyline so clear and close you'd think you could lift a building by its spire. "It's the sea," his father said, a hand lightly rubbing Teddy's back as they leaned against the stern. "Some men take to it. Some men it takes."

And he'd looked at Teddy in such a way that Teddy knew which of those men he'd probably grow up to be.

Shutter Island
A Novel
. Copyright © by Dennis Lehane. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.


Ransom Notes Interview with Claire Wachtel, Dennis Lehane's Editor

Claire Wachtel: I've been Dennis Lehane's editor since the beginning of his publishing career. When I read his first book, A Drink Before the War, I immediately realized that he was something special. He is a superb writer, whose work engages me every time I read it…and I read each manuscript at least three or four times as I'm working on it.

Mystic River is my all-time favorite of Dennis's books -- a fully realized novel that just happens to be a mystery. To me, that signals Dennis is no longer a genre writer, but a novelist in the sense of the literary greats.

Ransom Notes: What do you enjoy most about editing mystery/suspense books?

CW: I'm always enthralled by the unexpected in any genre, but there is nothing like the twists and turns and edge-of-the-seat suspense of a good mystery. This is especially true when the writing is as first-rate as Dennis Lehane's. In the case of Shutter Island, the characters are unique, the setting perfect for a thriller. And ultimately not knowing whose voice to trust made it as exciting as a roller-coaster ride.

RN: What did you think when Dennis Lehane first told you about his idea for Shutter Island?

CW: Dennis led several of us through the plotline, and we sat, riveted -- hanging on his every word. From the first I thought it was a brilliant idea, but I also thought it would be difficult to carry off, given the almost dual plots. Dennis handled this challenge superbly. Shutter Island is a tour de force.

RN: What did setting Shutter Island at a hospital for the criminally insane do for the story?

CW: It seems to me that the hospital setting is one of the keys to the book. I think Dennis did an amazing job portraying his characters' differing perceptions of realities, so at each turn the reader was left uncertain as to whom to believe. This really added to the suspense.

RN: What do you think setting much of the story in 1954 added?

CW: It seems to me that when dealing with conspiracy theories in novels, historical distance gives the reader an added perspective. Setting Shutter Island right in the middle of the McCarthy era signals readers that, based on what we know of history, something is amiss. One intriguing thing about Dennis's writing is that there always is a nub of truth. I think readers will come away from Shutter Island thinking it was a terrific read…and many will also find insights into issues that confront us in America today.

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Shutter Island 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1875 reviews.
Camden More than 1 year ago
This book is a great easy read. I started out reading it cause my teacher told us to pick a book. As soon as I got started I couldn't stop. Dennis Lehane does an amazing job of keeping the reader entertained all the way through. This book is great for anybody who like books that could be adapted into suspenseful movies. Not going to give away the story but trust me, if you make it to the end of the book (and it shouldn't be that hard to do) than you will be in for a shock as the ending ties everything together in a way you will never see coming.
jmpman44 More than 1 year ago
This is my first Dennis Lehane book, and after reading it I'm sure it won't be my last. The book itself is self-sustaining though out. I started it one morning and read it all day, only breaking to eat and go to the gym. It's that good! It starts off and grabs you with the mystery of what Shutter Island is really all about and gets your brain churning trying to figure out what the truth really is and why people seem to be hiding it. The setting is creepy and at times down right unsettling, and the characters are all well developed. Through his words, Mr. Lehane allows us to see Shutter Island exactly they way he wants us to, and weaves his plot at a pace that is absolutely perfect; always giving you just enough to keep you wanting more. If you like suspense, mystery, and things a little dark and creepy, you must read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the author. Read most of his novels. Best one is Gone, Baby, Gone. Just beautiful! However this novel, although tightly written, is trying too hard to be that 6th sense type. It failed for me! I saw the ending 1/3 into the book and kept reading hoping I'll be wrong. If you really want to read a great "People on a small island cut-off from others" novel read Agatha Cristie's "And Then There Were None." You will NOT see the ending coming... Unless you read the last chapter first :)
LISAS2010 More than 1 year ago
After reading "Shutter Island" all I could say was "WOW!!!" I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a good psychological/suspense thriller. It has a lot of good twists that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat making this book a definite must read. I look forward in reading more books by Mr. Lehane in the near future. I saw the film version after finishing the book and I must say that I was quite disappointed. Not to say that the movie is bad by any means. It's just after reading the book and knowing "the surprise ending"; it isn't so mind-blowing seeing it on the big screen. There were points where I just couldn't wait for the film to be over. My final thought is read the book and skip the movie..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shutter Island was a captivating tale that will keep you anxiously reading until the last page! An unexpected twist at the end made this novel all the better!
cinmor More than 1 year ago
With the amount of characters in this story, I would tend to get them confused. Not so, here. Great character development and some puzzling action that is reconciled at the end. You become very undecided about 2 possible endings to the story. Sometimes you're sure of one ending, then positive of another. Very good read.
Maximillian More than 1 year ago
In the beginning, this read like a Raymond Chandler hard-boiled detective story. I was thinking it was just a so-so story. However, the middle and end brought some surprises that you really have to pay attention to. It ended up to be very different from what I was led to believe. This is the first book by this author I have read; I would go back for more by him.
katehasl More than 1 year ago
This book was selected by my book club. i'm not usually a huge fan of mystery books(although i did enjoy the davinci code), so i wasn't super excited to have to read it. imagine my surprise that i would, not only actually enjoy it, but not be able to put it down. finished in 4 days. rushed home to read it each day. twists and turns on every page. well written. perfect suspense set up. you almost never have a grasp of what is actually happening until you get to the very end. makes me want to read more by this author. makes me want to see the movie.
Superlativity More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a great read, very well written, and I personally didn't find it slow at all. I thought I had guessed the ending, only to discover I really hadn't. It has well developed characters, lots of action, a twist, and an ending that wraps up everything very nicely.
wardo9696 More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book, and yet still did not expect the twist at the end! The combined intensity of the Patients on the the Island and the Island itself experiencing a hurricane/storm created a dramatic "fear" and uncertainty. The vagueness of the medical staff help to create mystery. I was constantly trying to guess what was going to happen next. A great read for a stormy night/weekend!
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
We missed the movie, though the previews looked good and we really enjoyed the others based on Dennis LeHane's books. Still, at least we've got the book and we'll rent the DVD one day. My husband read Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane before me. He seemed to be finding it hard to put down, so I was really looking forward to my chance to read. And I wasn't disappointed. The prologue is quietly intriguing, oddly satisfying in that it paints such a different picture of the scenes to come, leaving the reader just that little bit unsettled as the story unfolds-precisely the right frame of mind for what's to come. Soon the reader is viewing things through US Marshall Teddy Daniels' eyes. He meets his new partner and prepares to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the Criminally Insane. Mysteries deepen as clues are uncovered and suspicions aroused. The characters twist and turn, leaving hints of covert experiments and secrets hid in the lighthouse on the shores of the lonely island. But Daniels investigations are blocked at every turn and soon he's threatening to leave while a gathering storm threatens to force him to stay. I enjoyed the clues-just complicated enough to keep the reader intrigued, just buried enough to keep the reader turning pages. I enjoyed the hints and the satisfaction that the conclusion allowed. And I found myself rereading and checking back as the end approached. Was this right? Had I guessed? And how would it all play out? My husband confessed himself disappointed in the ending, though I felt it was perfectly in tune with the story's path. Still, disappointed or not, we both really enjoyed the book-sufficiently so that we've now bought several others by the same author to enjoy. And maybe one day soon we'll enjoy the movie too.
eurekatpt More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the way this book plays with one's mind. I knew it had to be somewhat playing head games on me since it takes place at a mental institution, so I was constantly questioning what things were real and what were not. Definitely got me thinking at the end. Strong language and sexual scenes, so I wouldn't recommend for innocent eyes. The version I read was the ebook version and it worked great.
sbieber82 More than 1 year ago
when i first started this book i was thinking hmm i hope its good.. but wow let me tell you it keeps you guessing till the end.. and it leaves you saying what the hell just happened.. good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yes, this book may have been confusing at times, with the war talk and being fast paced, but Lehane never allows a dull moment in this novel. this book had me questioning my own sanity in the end. with a SHOCKING twist at the end (which i never saw coming), you might be left with more questions than answers. however, i'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a well-written, suspense-filled, psychological horror. enjoy. [:
Calixto94 More than 1 year ago
Wow. Words cannot possibly describe how much I enjoyed reading this book. Me and a couple of friends read this book and we absolutely loved it. We like to read books that do not have an obvious ending and will keep us trying to figure out what happened. Our opinions were very different ofcourse, but we agreed that this is a great book. Two of my friends actually did not finish the book. They said it was way too confusing. The scenes described in this book are graphic and very interesting. Teddy is an amazing character. If you have books waiting to be read, I say you put those down and grab a Shutter Island book. It will be worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt the characterizations and plot kept you guessing about what was really occurring.
bunni More than 1 year ago
ending was a stunner!
Syncere_Thoughtz More than 1 year ago
I received my nook for my birthday on 2/19 and the first book I chose was Shutter Island. I saw the previews for the movie but I decided to read before watching. I was so involved with this book. I became a third US Marshal trying to figure the truth behind the asylum. The entire story had my mind set going right when all along it was suppose to be going left! I honestly had to re-read a few pages just to make sure that I read correctly. LOL I couldn't put my nook down. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody and everybody. TWO THUMBS WAY UP!!!!
Breezyd More than 1 year ago
I will admit - I was hesitant to read the book as someone had spoiled the ending for me ahead of time. Knowing the "twist" I was sure that I would only find the book to be "so-so" but was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was drawn in. This book is completely fabulous. It is clever, quick paced, exciting, funny, endearing, and extremely well written!
MaGicAllyGeNuisJ More than 1 year ago
I had received this book as a Valentine gift from my fiance, and I didnt read it when I first got it. But I started this book late Saturday night, and finished it late Monday night. LOL. I really did enjoy this book alot. The name and the advertisment of this movie is nothing what it seems. The book takes you in a whole other direction. The only thing I must say about this book. You have to read closely and play close attention to details. And when you finally get to the end, everything then starts adding up. Some of Dennis Lehane movies I have seen, and they were great!! But reading his books, are even better. I'm not going to be a kill joy, or bust anyones bubble about the plot of this book.But I will say this...everything is not what it seems!!!!
freedombill More than 1 year ago
Slow but worth it in the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel any synopsis would be too much. This is not what I expected from the movie trailers, but was so much more. If you have time to read a book from cover to cover (you won't want to put it down), read Shutter Island.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great thriller, a must read with an ending you'll never forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main reason I read the book was because I wanted to watch the movie, which was coming out to theaters soon. I read the book, and could NOT PUT IT DOWN. If you like a good thriller, you should definitely read Shutter Island. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 15... you have to have a mature mind and process of information. I suggest you get the book, read it, and you will find it hard to put it down. The ending is twisted, and not expected at all. READ THE BOOK!!! I also watched the movie, and suggest after reading the book you watch the movie. (Rated R) But make sure you read the book first!!!
7th_Trump More than 1 year ago
Great book! Lehane has a easy flowing writing style that kept me engaged throughout the course of the book. the characters were interesting and quirky. The plot has several twist and turns that keeps surprising you and enticing you for more. This isn't what I would call a horror book or even a thriller as much as a psychological mystery that is well written and well paced. I'll be definately seeking more from Dennis Lehane.