Morrow, Apr 2003, 25.95, 325 pp.
In 1954, US Marshals Teddy Daniels and his new partner, just in from Seattle, Chuck Aule take the ferry from the Massachusetts mainland to Shutter Island where Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane dominates the landscape. The law enforcement officials are assigned to investigate the disappearance of a convict (patient to Dr. Cawley) Rachel Solando, the Berkshire killer of three children she first drowned then “shared” breakfast with them in her kitchen.
Teddy and Chuck wonder how the woman could escape from a locked room on the third floor with guards all over the place and no hideaways on the island itself and swimming the distance to the nearest land in the treacherous Atlantic seems monumental. A hurricane is coming, which when it hits will totally isolate the island from the mainland. They begin to find evidence of illegal drug therapy and surgery, but little about the vanished Rachel. As they uncover more proof of wrongdoing Teddy and Chuck wonder if they will get off the island alive.
Highly regarded Dennis Lehane may have written the best police procedural and thriller of the year. Plenty of action, several mysteries that feels like a Moebius string as each sub-mystery seems inside one another, and strong characterization including flashbacks to Teddy's tragically deceased spouse make for a great read. On top of a powerful story line with a deep cast and a feel for how society dealt with mental illness during the early Eisenhower red scare era, the climax is as good as a novel gets. If a reader can afford one book, SHUTTER ISLAND is a terrific choice.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner