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Publisher's Summary

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car drove up their street. One boy got in the car, two did not, and something terrible happened - something that ended their friendship and changed the boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay - demons that urge him to do horrific things.

When Jimmy's daughter is murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy's daughter died covered in someone else's blood. While Sean attempts to use the law to return peace and order to the neighborhood, Jimmy finds his need for vengeance pushing him ever closer to a moral abyss from which he won't be able to return.

©2001 Dennis Lehane (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers

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Story

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  • Story

Punches you in the face!

I hit a dry spell in finding new novels that would engage my interest. As a result, I started searching for notable American novels I missed during the height of their popularity. Mystic River shows up on every book critic’s top 25 lists of great American modern novels. Since I had not seen the movie, I gave it a listen.

It would be misleading to characterize Mystic River (MR) as a murder mystery or detective story. Any reader who watched more than three episodes of “Law & Order” will figure out the mystery of MR by the end of the fourth chapter. The value of MR comes in the author’s, Dennis Lahane, skills at making the reader feel the anguish of the characters and intensity of the storyline. MR is a dark serious drama devoid of humor. The three main characters carry a deep sense of misery and psychological trauma that cannot be conventionally expressed due the machismo cultural standards of South Boston. The culture of machismo results in a basic breakdown in social communication, isolation, rejection, and pointless death. Lahane expertly takes the reader into an insular community where most of us would rarely venture. MR is always moving toward the conclusion, where the reader feels a tension similar to watching a car speeding obliviously in the wrong direction of a busy one way street and waiting for the eventual crash. The drama of the book occurs as characters rush to judgments based on community standards and spurious information.

Although the audio book runs roughly 15 hours, every detail is important to understanding the eventual finale. The interplay between the environment and characters makes this book special. After completing the book I watched the film. MR the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, is almost 100% faithful to the book in plot and tone. I recommend reading MR instead of watching the film to capture Lahane’s masterful writing. However, if you already watched the film, the book will lose much of its punch.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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The movie was great; this is even better!

I love Dennis Lehane and have listed to several books narrated by Scott Brick. Neither let me down. Excellent narration. Excellent crime and psychological thriller. I thought the three main characters were well developed and I really got to know them. I had seen the movie and still I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this audiobook. It will stick with you a long time.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • MJ
  • Uncasville, CT, United States
  • 01-13-13

Fantastic!

Would you listen to Mystic River again? Why?

Absolutely. I think this book was THE best book I've ever listened to! I first heard Scott Brick read The Passage (by Justin Cronin) and really enjoyed that, so his voice was familiar to me. I'd never "read" anything by Dennis Lehane but I had seen the movie Mystic River, a few times (it's also one of my favorite movies!) I'd NEVER really cared for Sean Penn until I saw him in this - he was fantastic!

What other book might you compare Mystic River to and why?

So far I have no comparison. I love most of Stephen King's work as well as the Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child, but Mystic River just took that top slot for me. Now I'm looking into reading other books by Dennis - I want to know if he writes as well in his other books, and if he does, I'll be totally thrilled!

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. The Passage, by Justin Cronin. I think Scott is a fantastic reader. I think part of why I enjoyed listening to Mystic River was because I was already familiar with his voice and reading style.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

All I can say is I really "felt" it. If the story is good, the reader should "feel" it.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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What would I have done?

The writer caught my interest from the very beginning. I felt I got to know the characters well enough that I could empathize. Wondered what I would do if faced with their situations.

I do agree with another reviewer that I would have liked a stronger ending. It was not exactly out of "left field" or implausible, just not that satisfying. And, yes, I did want to know how everyone fared, but I felt the use of the prologue was a bit of a cop out.

All that said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Leigh
  • Mount Pleasant, SC United States
  • 05-22-13

Sucked me in from the beginning!

I was hooked! I love the twists and turns every Lehane novel has- and Scott Bricks narration was flawless! If you are looking for a thriller with non-stop action- this is it! Bravo!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • N
  • 10-10-15

Intense. Sad. Wonderful

Story keeps you guessing throughout. The characters are well developed and unique. The story is new and gripping. I highly recommend this book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelly
  • Melbourne, FL, United States
  • 10-02-15

Excellent story and narrator.

Loved the plot and characters in this story. Never saw the movie but may just to see if it's different from the book. Loved it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 07-08-13

Wonderful writing,

but it’s too depressing for me - during and at the end. I’m looking for entertainment.

It’s a mystery with unexpected events and very full character development. I like the way the author writes about characters, their thoughts, decisions, dialogue. But I don’t like the downer element. I’ve read three books by Lehane. In all three books, horrible things happen to children. I grieve for that and other things. There is a lot of sadness here about life and society. I never smiled. I want more entertainment in my reading. I enjoy the Michael Connelly detective stories because I smile due to being surprised or impressed with what the guy does. But Lehane’s books don’t do that.

Early in the book a ten-year-old boy is kidnaped by pedophiles for four days. I was disappointed that we are never told what happened during those days. And then not enough was told about what happened to the pedophiles later. I wanted more details. I also wanted more details about the boy prostitute (later in the story) - what he did after a major incident and why.

Sadly I don’t like Scott Brick as a narrator. He comes across as cocky, arrogant, dismissive, and sarcastic. He brings those tones to his characters which makes me like the characters less. It’s hard to like a book when you don’t like the characters.

Genre: crime mystery

22 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Ending is more out of sync than mystic

Dennis Lehane's writing style isn't as lyrical as I prefer but he can paint a good picture with words and I was drawn in and engaged for most of the book. I particularly liked his very effective use of setting in this novel. The working class Boston neighborhood came alive in my mind and served to "flavor" the characters and move the plot. There was a fairly good and consistent use of foreshadowing which allows a reader to make some good guesses at the mysteries in advance without actually being certain. However, I was truly disappointed in the ending. After building a complex psychological study of 3 friends from childhood to mid-30's, the ending abruptly wraps up the story with a total warping of one of the characters - the actions were consistent but the internal perspective was not. I won't include any spoilers but the book took me on an interesting journey that ended suddenly at a completely unrelated destination. This is a good read that just doesn't quite work in the end.

Scott Brick provides competent narration with a style very suitable to a murder mystery.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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I Have To See The Movie Now

Finally a Scott Brick performance that didn't depress me! He seems to be a very popular narrator for some excellent books though after listening to him I feel I need antidepressants. Not this time, he was excellent.

As the other reviewers have already said in one way or the other, this is excellent writing. The story owns so many strong emotions, scared, angry, anxious, hate, love, sad... Highly recommend, not a moment wasted. I will listen again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful