Mystic River Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Mystic River

As children, Sean, Jimmy and Dave were friends. However, after the abduction and abuse of one of them, they grow distant. Although they all remain in the city of their childhood, their paths never cross. One goes on the become a police officer, another serves time in prison, and the other flits from one job to another. Tragedy throws them together. One loses a daughter to violence, one is the investigating officer in the case, and the other.... Is he the killer?
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They must overcome the events and the past and the feelings of friendship they once had in order to find and punish the murderer.

The review of this Book prepared by Betty Porter

Three friends at beginning of story are caught up together latter in life with the murder of one's daughter. The other two friends: one is a loser and the other is a detective. Their lives crash as the loser is thought to have murdered the daughter. With little evidence the father kills the loser and dumps the body. In the fight of wits between the father and the detective in never resolved but is left open at the end of the book.
The review of this Book prepared by Liz Pursley

Morrow, Jan 2001, 25.00, 401 pp.
ISBN: 0066209307

    In the Boston area, Jimmy Marcus, Dave Boyle, and Sean Devine are best friends, playing together like preadolescents do everywhere. Their friendship and perhaps childhood ends when eleven-year old Dave enters the car of two strangers claiming to be cops, who sexually molest him. When he escapes and finally returns home he is not the same carefree child.

    Twenty-five years later, homicide detective Devine investigates the murder of Marcus' nineteen-year-old daughter. His prime suspect is Boyle, whose own wife believes he is more monster than human being. Marcus, an ex-con, conducts his own inquiries because the grieving father plans to provide his own brand of justice to the culprit. These three former friends appear heading towards a bloody deadly collision.

    Dennis Lehane, known for his Kenzie-Gennero series, has written his best novel to date. MYSTIC RIVER contains a who-done-it, but that is a subplot of the theme that centers on the impact on adults of their broken childhood relationships. This psychological suspense tale works because the three key players and several support members like Boyle's wife appear genuine and consistent so that their actions feel right for them. Though his Kenzie-Gennero series is very good, readers will demand Mr. Lehane take further sabbaticals from it so that he can concentrate on more stand alone novels like this excellent book.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Mystic River

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Plot & Themes

How difficult to spot villain?    -   Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   50% Special suspect?    -   best friend Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   small businessman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   Boston

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Dennis Lehane Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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