Review: Shutter Island

Today’s book was on my reading list for years before I got to it.  Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is a well-loved piece of thriller fiction that popped up in the mainstream again years after it was published thanks to a Leonardo DiCaprio film based on the book.  I’ve never seen the movie, but now I’ve read the book, and it definitely plays well into my recent reading of The Psychopath Test, which I blogged about here.


In case you haven’t read Shutter Island:

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

I give Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island four out of five stars.
I have never read a Lehane book before, but I’ve heard that they’re great.  Shutter Island was just that — great.  Our protagonist, Teddy Daniels, takes us to a prison/island on his search for an escaped prisoner.  What he finds is a twisted, corrupt establishment.
There is no way to really delve into this book without spoilers, so if you’re planning to read Shutter Island, stop reading now!
The thing that I loved about this book is that Lehane joins a cadre of other authors who employ unreliable protagonists.  I should have known what to expect from the beginning thanks to the prologue (although it kind of baffled me until the last twenty pages of the novel), but Teddy Daniels earns the reader’s trust without ever earning it.  Thus, the “twist” in this book isn’t so much that Teddy Daniels is partaking in a carefully orchestrated scenario, but rather lies in the fact that we so clearly stay on his side.  What’s more, after reading the book, I don’t trust Teddy, but I also don’t trust Lehane’s version of the truth as propagated by the doctor at the end of the book.

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