At every movie I went to see last year, one of the previews was for Shutter Island. The trailer looked too scary for my taste so I refused to see it, despite the assurances of a friend that it wasn’t really that bad. Hah! This novel by Dennis Lehane is one of the most complex and frightening psychological thrillers I’ve read. I’m sure the movie would have been too much for me.
The story begins with a prologue written by Dr. Lester Sheehan in 1993. I re-read this a few times throughout the novel, and it was somewhat helpful in figuring out what was happening. The action in chapter one returns us to 1954, where the real drama occurs. Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are U. S. Marshals. They have been sent to Shutter Island, in Boston Harbor, the home of a hospital for the criminally insane. A patient has escaped, seemingly vanishing through the walls of her cell. She is considered extremely dangerous. There is no way off the island except by boat, but there are many places to hide. A powerful hurricane is approaching, so there will be no boats for days.
When Teddy contracts a migraine headache, he takes some pills given to him by the chief of staff, Dr. Cawley. Thus begin his strange dreams and hallucinations. Teddy is no longer sure if anyone is who they say they are. But he is becoming increasingly sure that he will never leave Shutter Island.
Is there a conspiracy? Shutter Island is experimenting with new psychotropic drugs. Has Teddy been drugged? Is he an experiment? Why? Does he know too much? All important questions.
This book takes many twists and turns. I’m certain that it will leave even the most avid reader of mysteries perplexed until near the very end. Remember-nothing is what it seems to be. Trust no one. Good advice when reading this book, which I highly recommend.
Published in hardcover-William Morrow-2003