Mystic Riverby Dennis Lehane
When Jimmy Marcus' daughter is found murdered, his childhood friend Sean Devine is assigned to the case. His personal life unraveling, the investigation takes Sean back into a world of violence and pain he thought he'd left behind. It also puts him on a collision course with Jimmy Marcus - a man with his own dark past who is eager to solve the crime with brutal… See more details below
When Jimmy Marcus' daughter is found murdered, his childhood friend Sean Devine is assigned to the case. His personal life unraveling, the investigation takes Sean back into a world of violence and pain he thought he'd left behind. It also puts him on a collision course with Jimmy Marcus - a man with his own dark past who is eager to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave Boyle, a man who hides monstrous secrets beneath a bland facade - secrets his wife, Celeste, is only beginning to suspect. As the race for a killer heats up, all are pulled closer toward an abyss that will force them to face their true selves - and will mark them as irrevocably as the past itself.
"Lehane is one of those brave new detective stylists who is not afraid of fooling around with the genre's traditions." (Washington Post Book World)
The book revolves around the lives of three Irish kids, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus and Dave Boyle, living in the East Buckingham area of Boston. Predominantly inhabited by poor Irish-Americans, East Buckingham is divided into two sections, the Point and the Flats. Devine lives in the Point section of East Buckingham, and Marcus and Boyle live twelve blocks south, in the Flats. For the most part, the Point and the Flats had little to do with each other; those who live in the Flats view those who live in the Point as low-livesas the kind of Irish who deserve their bad-boy reputation. The story opens in 1975 when Devine, Marcus and Boyle are accosted by two pedophiles who pass themselves off as police officers. Boyle, unaware of the men's real motivations, gets into the car and disappears. When he returns four days later, having escaped, nothing is the same. Devin and Marcus, unable to overcome feeling of guilt for allowing Boyle to get into the car, quickly drift apart and retreat to their respective neighborhoods.
Twenty-five years later their story resumes. Marcus is now an ex-con gone straight who raised his young daughter, Katie, after the death of his first wife; Devine is a homicide detective with the State Police; and the still-tormented Boyle is married with a son. Now nineteen-year-old Katie has been murdered, and Devine has been assigned to investigate the case. Boyle, who was one of the last people to see Katie alive, arrives home latethe same night with his clothing covered in blood. Boyle tells his wife that he had to defend himself in a mugging, but his story has more holes than a golf course. His suffering wife jumps to his aid, cleaning his clothes, bleaching out the drains to destroy any incriminating evidence, throwing herself into what she perceives is her duty to protect her husband. It is as though she has waited her entire life for this opportunity to rise to the occasion; she both embraces it and is repelled by its implications.
Meanwhile, Boyle still has not talked to anyone about what happened to him twenty-five years earlier, and the secret is eating away at him. Boyle feels himself slowly being replaced by what he calls the Wolf Boy, and the Wolf Boy has desires that scare the hell out of Boyle. Devine and Marcus are harboring corrosive secrets of their own. Twenty-five years after that fateful day in 1975, Devine is still riddled with survivor's guilt. One of Devine's secrets is that he knew better, but that did nothing to stop it from happening. Marcus, for his part, shares that same guilt but has other, deadly secrets of his own, stemming from his days as the ringleader of a successful gang of thieves.
The characters in this book exist in a claustrophobic world where everyone knows everyone else or is related to everyone elseBoyle's wife and Marcus's wife are cousins; and Marcus's wife's brothers, the Savages, are widely known as the neighborhood's dim-witted thugs. This is a world that is both completely familiar and unfamiliar to its inhabitants. Yuppies are moving into the Point, gentrifying everything they can lay deed to, and everywhere there seems to be an air of desperation and anger as one world is being swallowed up by another.
In many important ways, this is Lehane's best book. It possesses a sustained sense of urgency (except for the 1975 prelude, the whole of the story takes place over just a few days) and is a huge step up in its subject matter. Where it falters, oddly, is also in its storytelling. Information that the reader is given but is not supposed to have paid attention to stands out glaringly. When a crucial piece of the puzzle is laid on the table, I knew in a heart beat who the murderer was and what the whole setup was and who the red herring wasall this with another one hundred-fifty pages to go. That kind of blunder is especially maddening in a book that is otherwise so darn good. Sure, it makes the reader feel bright, putting it all together, but it also undermines the payoff. It's a tradeoff that I hope Lehane has gotten out of his system.
Randy Michael Signor
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Large Print
- Product dimensions:
- 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.18(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Point and the Flats
When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate back home with them. It became a permanent character of their clothes, the beds they slept in, the vinyl backs of their car seats. Sean's kitchen smelled like a Fudgsicle, his bathroom like a Coleman Chew-Chew bar. By the time they were eleven, Sean and Jimmy had developed a hatred of sweets so total that they took their coffee black for the rest of their fives and never ate dessert.
On Saturdays, Jimmy's father would drop by the Devines' to have a beer with Sean's father. He'd bring Jimmy with him, and as one beer turned into six, plus two or three shots of Dewar's, Jimmy and Sean would play in the backyard, sometimes with Dave Boyle, a kid with girl's wrists and weak eyes who was always telling jokes he'd learned from his uncles. From the other side of the kitchen window screen, they could hear the hiss of the beer can pull-tabs, bursts of hard, sudden laughter, and the heavy snap of Zippos as Mr. Devine and Mr. Marcus lit their Luckys.
Sean's father, a foreman, had the better job. He was tall and fair and had a loose, easy smile that Sean had seen calm his mother's anger more than a few times, just shut it down like a switch had been flicked off inside of her. Jimmy's father loaded the trucks. He was small and his dark hair fell over his forehead in a tangle and something in his eyes seemed to buzz all the time. He had a way of moving too quickly; you'd blink and he was on the other side of the room. Dave Boyle didn't have a father, just a lot ofuncles, and the only reason he was usually there on those Saturdays was because he had this gift for attaching himself to Jimmy like lint; he'd see him leaving his house with his father, show up beside their car, half out of breath, going "What's up, Jimmy?" " with a sad hopefulness.
They all lived in East Buckingham, just west of downtown, a neighborhood of cramped corner stores, small playgrounds, and butcher shops where meat, still pink with blood, hung in the windows. The bars had Irish names and Dodge Darts by the curbs. Women wore handkerchiefs tied off at the backs of their skulls and carried mock leather snap purses for their cigarettes. Until a couple of years ago, older boys had been plucked from the streets, as if by spaceships, and sent to war. They came back hollow and sullen a year or so later, or they didn't come back at all. Days, the mothers searched the papers for coupons. Nights, the fathers went to the bars. You knew everyone; nobody except those older boys ever left.
Jimmy and Dave came from the Flats, down by the Penitentiary Channel on the south side of Buckingham Avenue. It was only twelve blocks from -Sean's street, but the Devines were north of the Ave., part of the Point, and the Point and the Flats didn't mix much.
It wasn't like the Point glittered with gold streets and silver spoons. It was just the Point, working class, blue collar, Chevys and Fords and Dodges parked in front of simple A-frames and the occasional small Victorian. But people in the Point owned. People in the Flats rented. Point families went to church, stayed together, held signs on street corners during election months. The Flats, though, who knew what they did, living like animals sometimes, ten to an apartment, trash in their streets -- Wellieville, Sean and his friends at Saint Mike's called it, families living on the dole, sending their kids to public schools, divorcing. So while Sean went to Saint Mike's Parochial in black pants, black tie, and blue shirt, Jimmy and Dave went to the Lewis M. Dewey School on Blaxston. Kids at the Looey & Dooey got to wear street clothes, which was cool, but they usually wore the same ones three out of five days, which wasn't. There was an aura of grease to them-greasy hair, greasy skin, greasy collars and cuffs. A lot of the boys had bumpy welts of acne and dropped out early. A few of the girls wore maternity dresses to graduation.
So if it wasn't for their fathers, they probably never would have been friends. During the week, they never hung out, but they had those Saturdays, and there was something to those days, whether they hung out in the backyard, or wandered through the gravel dumps off Harvest Street, or hopped the subways and rode downtown-not to see anything, just to move through the dark tunnels and hear the rattle and brake-scream of the cars as they cornered the tracks and the lights flickered on and off -- that felt to Sean like a held breath. Anything could happen when you were with Jimmy. If he was aware there were rules-in the subway, on the streets, in a movie theater-he never showed it.
They were at South Station once, tossing an orange street hockey ball back and forth on the platform, and Jimmy missed Sean's throw and the ball bounced down onto the tracks. Before it occurred to Sean that Jimmy could even be thinking about it, Jimmy jumped off the platform and down onto the track, down there with the mice and the rats and the third rail.
People on the platform went nuts. They screamed at Jimmy. One woman turned the color of cigar ash as she bent at the knees and yelled, Get back up here, get back up here now, goddamnit! Sean heard a...Mystic River. Copyright © by Dennis Lehane. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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