Shutter Island

By Dennis Lehane

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Harper, c2003, 2009

Genres: Suspense, psychological suspense, mystery, historical fiction

ISBN: 9780061703526

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 369 (385 including excerpts from other works)

Setting: Shutter Island, MA (off the coast from Boston)

Time period: 1954

Plot summary: In 1954, US Marshal, Teddy Daniels, and his partner, Chuck, are summoned to Shutter Island to find a missing patient.  Located on the Atlantic Coast near Boston, the island houses a mental institution for the criminally insane.  Somehow one of the patients, Rachael Solando, managed to escape barefoot from a locked room and disappear.  While Teddy and Chuck begin their investigation a hurricane blows in, isolating the island and its inhabitants from the rest of the world.  As the marshals work to reveal the secrets of the island, they increase their risk of never leaving.   Nothing is what it seems on Shutter Island – except the nightmares.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: With a slower beginning, the pacing increases as the story progresses; after the first quarter of the book, the pace becomes quite fast.

Characterization: The story is told in third person through Teddy (aside from the Prologue, which is told by one of the doctors).  While there are a few important secondary characters, these become quite sinister over time.  The story revolves around Teddy.

Frame: The title of this story provides the frame.  Shutters can either be opened or closed to allow light in or keep it out.  Islands can either be protective realms or isolating ones.

Tone: Creepy, sinister

Story line: Intricate and intriguing.  While some elements of the story might be predicted by readers, the many twists and turns throughout the storyline should provide plenty of surprises.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Psychiatric hospital patients — Fiction.

Brainwashing — Fiction.

Drug testing — Fiction.

Eugenics — Fiction.

Islands — Fiction.

United States marshals — Fiction.

Massachusetts — Fiction.

Psychological fiction.

Suspense fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Similar authors:

Barnes & Noble suggests:

Harlan Coben

Michael Connelly

Jeffery Deaver

John Sandford

Norway Memorial Library suggests:

Michael Connelly

Pete Dexter

Stephen Greenleaf

Bill James

Solomon Jones

Andrew Klavan

Archer Mayor

George Pelecanos

S. J. Rozan

Personal notes: This was a great book to read to attain a grasp of what psychological suspense is all about.  I enjoyed this book, even though I found the ending to be quite distressing.  I enjoyed how the story of the rat at the beginning of the book, only becomes relevant at the end of the story.

Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – criminally insane, racist prison warden, Black hospital workers

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