Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Author: Dennis Lehane
Reader: Scott Brick
Short Review: A well-read, strong mystery with one major flaw.
Long Review: I’ve been sitting on this review for ages, because I like almost everything about this book except for the thing I absolutely hate about it. And of course, I can’t explain what I dislike about the book without spoiling it. We try to avoid spoilers, of course, and avoiding spoilers for a mystery is paramount. So, trust me when I say there’s one thing I really disliked about the book, but I won’t say what it is. Suffice it to say, a bad ending to a mystery colors one’s perception of the entire book. If I’d stopped listening before reaching those last several tracks, this would have been one of my favorites.
The flaw has nothing to do with Brick’s narration. His pace is excellent, his voice is great, his delivery is spot on, and he’s well worth listening to. He does overdo it a bit here and there, but with material so fraught, that doesn’t surprise me.
The book follows Jimmy, Sean, and Dave–three childhood friends from Boston who grow apart and are then dragged back together by a murder case. As adults, Jimmy is a reformed criminal whose daughter is found murdered, Sean is a homicide detective investigating the murder, and Dave is a guy who never got over a terrible attack during his childhood. The plot circles around many the possible suspects for the murder; delves into Dave’s horrid experience and the community’s reaction to it; and generally pokes at what we think causes people to be criminals.
The story is engrossing. It’s full of flawed characters and misdirections. But I think the end is based on a complete cop-out, and that colors the way I see the rest of the book. I walk away from it feeling betrayed by Lehane and wishing there was an alternate ending that would fix the final chapters.