"Anyone dazzled by Dennis Lehane's Mystic River will be completely blown away by Shutter Island....Deeply atmospheric." —San Francisco Chronicle
The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades—with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.
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About the Author
Dennis Lehane is the author of nine novelsincluding the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island; and The Given Dayas 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.
Date of Birth:August 4, 1965
Place of Birth:Dorchester, Massachusetts
Education:B.A., Eckerd College, 1988; M.F.A., Florida International University, 1993
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Title: Shutter IslandAuthor: Dennis LehaneGenre: Psychological thrillerPublishing Information: April 6, 2004 by HarperTorchWhere I got it: Borders liquidation saleOne sentence: In 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels is assigned to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from Ashecliffe mental hospital on Shutter Island, only to find that he is somehow connected. Themes: Mystery, detective, psychological thriller, Main character: 3.5/5Teddy Daniels was an intriguing, well-rounded character. Lehane dropped in so many additional details and quirks that created additional layers and made Teddy complex. His relationship with his wife was particularly revealing, although I wish I would have seen more interaction of him with his children.Secondary characters: 3/5Chuck was a fun secondary character, providing some comic relief while still moving the plot forward. He was a good foil to Teddy, and definitely helped to make clear the roles and limits of each character. I became confused with the many doctors around, and kept mixing them up, so I wish their personalities were clearer. Writing style: 4/5While I can¿t call Lehane¿s writing fast-paced, it definitely kept my interest. The writing was remarkable and descriptive; the action fascinating and entertaining. Lehane was incredibly skilled at leading the audience along his plotline, pulling them along with his twists and turns until they finally reach the ending. Plot: 4.5/5One major disappointment for me was that I watched the movie before reading the book, so I pretty much knew what was going to happen. One thing that I liked better from the movie (which is saying something, because the movie wasn¿t very good), was the spooky aspect that was incorporated in (or at least shown in the previews). That was sadly missed in the novel, which focused more on the mystery part. However, I adored the premise, and the twists kept me guessing throughout. Ending: 5/5Superbly done, fantastic in both execution and action. I can¿t tell you anything more except I adored it. Best scene: The ending, hands down. Didn¿t see it coming. Positives: Well-rounded main character, writing style, plot and premiseNegatives: Less than perfect cast of secondary characters, First Line: I haven¿t laid my eyes on the island in several years.Cover: My version had Leo and scenes from the movie, which was a little disappointing, but it still evoked the feel it needed to.Verdict: A thrilling and thought-provoking psychological thriller that left me wanting to read more from Lehane in the future. Rating: 8 / 10