Book Review: Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island coverTitle: Shutter Island
Author: Dennis Lehane
ISBN: 9780061898815
Pages: 400
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The year is 1954, and Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal, is on his way to a small island to search for a prisoner who escaped from Ashcliffe, a hospital for the criminally insane. But Teddy also has deeper, darker motives for wanting to go to Ashcliffe—whispers of prisoner experimentation and conspiracy have reached his ears, and he’s intent on getting to the bottom of these rumors for both personal and professional reasons. But what Teddy doesn’t realize is that nothing at Asheville is as it seems, and he can trust no one.


Shutter Island was my first Dennis Lehane novel, and wow, what an introduction to the body of work of this acclaimed author. From the very first page of Shutter Island, I could not put this book down. The suspense only heightens as the novel progresses, and Lehane blindsides the reader over and over again with twists and turns that are shocking and extremely well-conceived. This is a book that you should absolutely plan on reading in one sitting.

Teddy is an intriguing character in Shutter Island. It’s clear that he has his own agenda when it comes to Ashcliffe, and once the reader realizes what that is, they are completely emotionally invested in him. As forces seem to be mounting and it’s clear that those at Ashcliffe want to prevent Teddy from escaping the island, readers will be hooked on Teddy’s journey, hoping that, somehow, he finds the answers he needs and makes it to safety. It’s an incredible ride to be on, as the pages turn more and more quickly. Lehane really does a great job with the level of tension for this book.

One aspect of Shutter Island that readers will really enjoy is that it’s such a smart novel. The puzzles in it are challenging and the novel really makes you think. What’s more, Lehane really weaves in the time period and makes it an integral part of the novel. Teddy is a World War II veteran and the world is now facing the Cold War. The desperation of the era and the circumstances happening at the time really are what make the novel possible. Lehane writes his atmosphere incredibly well, and the attention to detail is really extraordinary.

From beginning to end, Shutter Island is twisty psychological thrill ride. Lehane did such an incredible job crafting this novel, and it is absolutely worth every second you spend reading it. The ending is interesting, to say the least, and readers will either love or hate it (but I won’t discuss it any more because I refuse to spoil any of this book’s plot, much less the ending!), but regardless of how you feel, you will appreciate Lehane’s amazing ability to write a balanced, suspenseful, and intriguing mystery.

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  1. I listened to this one on audio, and I had many of the mysteries figured out early on, but I did enjoy his characters and setting a great deal.

  2. Ditto, this was my first LaHane novel, and I couldn’t put it down. A creepy suspensfulness that was oodles of fun!

  3. (Hopefully without giving anything away) I loved that the end of the novel left you with the “is he or isn’t he” question. It was a huge discussion peice for my book club. I was disappointed in the movie though. I think they made the decision for us, rather than letting the audience decide for themselves.


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