Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I chose "Shutter Island" from my book-of-the-month club's catalog because I had seen ads for the movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio and based on the Dennis Lehane novel.

I have to admit that while I was reading the book I did envision Di Caprio as the protagonist, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, and another well-known TV character actor as his sidekick Chuck Aule (sorry, I can't remember his name.)

Teddy and Chuck have been called to Shutter Island to assist the authorities at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Dangerous inmate Rachel Soldano, who had murdered her three children years ago, is missing. Even though the hospital is located on an island, Rachel cannot be found anywhere.

As Teddy and Chuck begin the investigation into Rachel's disappearance, they find that things are not as they appear on the surface. They deduce that Rachel had to have had inside help to escape. As they probe into the dark corners of the hospital, the other buildings on the grounds and the island itself, they pick up hints that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Why are the warden and the hospital chief of staff acting so oddly? Everyone, from warden to guards to prisoners alike, all seem to be in on the mystery. And why has Rachel's psychiatrist left the island to go on vacation precisely when he is needed the most? Teddy and Chuck even hear rumors of a sinister government plot to experiment on patients with gruesome brain operations much like the Nazis conducted during World War II.

Moreover, Teddy starts to suspect he has been drugged with psychotropic drugs. Then, Chuck disappears. Teddy, desperately searching for Chuck, realizes he himself is being hunted. And if that weren't enough, as we race along with Teddy toward the climax, a powerful hurricane bears down on the island.

"Shutter Island" is all it has been touted to be. It is a superb thriller that moves at breakneck speed, and it has a truly shocking plot twist that left me dazed. I had not read Lehane before, but I will certainly read more of him ("Mystic River" is another of his books turned into a movie) because he is an extremely clever and satisfying suspense/mystery writer.

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