“Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane

Lehane, Dennis. Mystic River (2001)  
HarperCollins, 448 pages, $7.99 mass market paperback  
ISBN 0 380 73185 1     

Highly Recommended

Cover: Mystic River

Dennis Lehane takes a break from Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro of Dorchester to tell the story of three boys from the fictional East Buckingham, a working-class district just west of downtown. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus often spend Saturdays together because Sean’s father is Jimmy’s father’s supervisor at the Coleman Candy Plant. The third boy, Dave Boyle – well, Dave just tags along wherever Jimmy goes, hoping to be accepted. 

The story opens in 1975, when the boys are 11 years old. Sean, Jimmy, and Dave are roughhousing in the street near Sean’s house one afternoon when a big sedan with two men in it pulls up. One man, wearing a gold badge on his belt, gets out of the car and begins reprimanding the boys, telling them he’s a cop. Sean and Jimmy are instinctively wary of the strangers, but the vulnerable Dave gets into the car when the man tells him they’re going to take him home and tell his mother what he was doing.

The men, of course, are not cops. On the fourth day after being abducted, Dave manages to escape and is returned to his home. The whole neighborhood throws a party in honor of Dave’s safe return, but when Dave asks his mother why the men did those awful things to him, she immediately changes the subject and tells him not to talk about it.

Fast forward 25 years. Sean, Jimmy, and Dave – now men of 36 – have all stayed in East Buckingham, although they haven’t had much contact with each other since childhood. When Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter Katie is murdered, Sean, now a state police officer, is assigned to the investigation. And Dave – well, once again, Dave Boyle was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The search for Katie’s killer forces all three men to examine their lives in relation to their families, their neighborhood, and each other. What they find submerged there is as deep, dark, and polluted as the nearby river.

© 2002 by Mary Daniels Brown

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