Shutter Island

Written by Dennis Lehane
Review by Sue Asher

This fast-paced and smartly plotted psychological thriller is set in 1954 on the grounds of the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. The book opens as U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels arrives at the federal hospital/prison to investigate the disappearance of a patient who escaped from a locked room, leaving no trace. But Teddy has more than one agenda. A U.S. Senator of his acquaintance is interested in the possibility of radical experimentation being performed on the incarcerated patients. And one of the patients just may be the pyromaniac who set the apartment fire that killed Teddy’s wife.

As the investigation proceeds, the mystery deepens. Is Dr. Crawley, the Chief of Staff, a brilliant and compassionate psychiatrist, or a mad genius who will stop at nothing to protect his empire? Is Teddy here because he finagled the assignment, or did somebody summon him here, and why?

Dennis Lehane is a wonderful writer who manages to make the claustrophobic atmosphere at this isolated island prison frighteningly real. Adept character development brings each person to life, and their complexities keep both Teddy and the reader guessing. Most importantly for a book so full of plot twists and riddles, the ending does not disappoint. Pick up this book when you’ve set aside a long block of time for reading, because you will not want to put it down.