Sunday, March 21, 2010

Amy's Bookshelf #2 - Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane



Picture the scene: I'm in a library (city library that is, not the University one) and slightly angry. I had made the decision to start reading regularly again rather than sit on my arse all day watching bloody TV! Problem is, I can't seem to find any of the books I was hoping to borrow out! The computers there said these books were stocked, but I could never find them. I like to put this down to sloppy shelving. One of the books I was looking for was Mystic River, a Dennis Lehane book that I read many years ago that was turned into that amazing film by Clint Eastwood that won Academy Awards for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. Its one of those books and films that you can't watch again quickly because it is so distressing.

Instead though, I found this: Shutter Island. So I decided to give it a go! The story centres around US Marshal Teddy Daniels, who is sent to Asheclife Hospital for the Criminally Insane on Shutter Island to find one of the criminals/patients who has gone missing. Just by looking at the place, Teddy and his partner Chuck, know that it is a horrible one that is disturbing in my ways.

Then the story unfolds that reveals that it is more than just a simple case of a missing patient. Teddy realises that his wife's murderer is a patient on Shutter Island and that he also has another agenda of "exposing" the inhumane experiments undertaken in the mysterious lighthouse. Then he finds himself having to choose between both.

I felt the first third of the novel extremely intriguing. The disappearance of Rachel Solando, a patient that murdered her own children  is like something out of an Agatha Christie story: there is no way she could have escaped, yet missing she is! Then when the story started to focus more on the whole "my wife's murderer is here" and "lets expose these fuckers" sections it started to feel a bit flat for me. I still enjoyed it very very much though. It gathered more steam towards the final act, which I was glad about because I was starting to lose interest.

My favourite thing about the novel is the fact that we see everything from Teddy's perspective. It is all his point of view and anyone who has read the novel (or even seen the film for that matter) will hopefully know why I appreciate this fact so much!

When I remembered that the film adaptation (released last week in the UK) was directed by Martin Scorsese, I was surprised, because it is quite a radical change in genre on his part and also because I thought he could have picked a better book to adapt. Hopefully the film rights all the things that the book did wrong, and that it grabs me from beginning to end!

7/10 - by no means a bad book. It just lacked something that I can't quite lay my finger on. But I still recommend it for Lehane's wonderful interpretation of the disturbed human mind.