Excerpt from Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Mystic River

by Dennis Lehane

Mystic River
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages

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"My dad don't work with yours anymore."

"How come?" Sean squatted by Jimmy. He didn't have a stick, but he wanted one. He wanted to do what Jimmy did, even if he didn't know why, and even though his father would strap his ass if he did.

Jimmy shrugged. "He was smarter than them. He scared them because he knew so much stuff."

"Smart stuff! " Dave Boyle said. "Right, Jimmy?

Right, Jimmy? Right, Jimmy? Dave was like a parrot some days.

Sean wondered how much anyone could know about candy and why that information would be important. "What kind of stuff?"

"How to run the place better," Jimmy didn't sound real sure and then he shrugged. "Stuff, anyway. Important stuff."

"Oh."

"How to run the place. Right, Jimmy?

Jimmy dug in the cement some more. Dave Boyle found his own stick and bent over the soft cement, began drawing a circle. Jimmy frowned and tossed his own stick aside. Dave stopped drawing, looked at Jimmy like, What'd I do?

"Know what would be cool?" Jimmy's voice had that slight rise in it that made something in Sean's blood jitter probably because Jimmy's idea of cool was usually way different than anyone else's.

"What?"

"Driving a car."

"Yeah," Sean said slowly.

"You know" --Jimmy held his palms out, the twig and cement forgotten- "just around the block."

"Just around the block," Sean said.

"It would be cool, wouldn't it?" Jimmy grinned.

Sean felt a smile curl up and break wide across his face. "It would be cool."

"It would be like cooler'n anything." Jimmy jumped a foot off the ground. He raised his eyebrows at Sean and jumped again.

"It'd be cool." Sean could already feel the big wheel in his hand.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Jimmy punched Sean's shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Sean punched Jimmy's shoulder, something rippling inside him, racing, everything getting fast and shiny.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Dave said, but his punch missed Jimmy's shoulder.

For a moment, Sean had even forgotten Dave was there. That happened a lot with Dave. Sean didn't know why.

"Fucking serious fucking cool." Jimmy laughed and jumped again.

And Sean could see it was already beginning to happen. They were in the front seat (Dave in the back, if he was there at all) and moving, two eleven-year-olds driving around Buckingham, tooting the horn at their friends, drag-racing the older kids on Dunboy Avenue, laying rubber in screeching clouds of smoke. He could smell the air rushing through the window, feel it in his hair.

Jimmy looked up the street. "You know anyone on this street who leaves their keys in their car?"

Sean did. Mr. Griffin left them under the seat, and Dottie Fiore left them in her glove compartment, and Old Man Makowski, the drunk who listened to Sinatra records too loud all hours of the day and night, left them in the ignition most times.

But as he followed Jimmy's gaze and picked out the cars that he knew held keys, Sean felt a dull ache grow behind his eyes, and in the hard sunlight bouncing off the trunks and hoods, he could feel the weight of the street, its homes, the entire Point and its expectations for him. He was not a kid who stole cars. He was a kid who'd go to college someday, make something of himself that was bigger and better than a foreman or a truck loader. That was the plan, and Sean believed that plans worked out if you were careful, if you were cautious. It was like sitting through a movie, no matter how boring or confusing, until the end. Because at the end, sometimes things were explained or the ending itself was cool enough that you felt like sitting through all the boring stuff had been worth it.

He almost said this to Jimmy, but Jimmy was already moving up the street, looking in car windows, Dave running alongside him.

Mystic River. Copyright (c) 2001 by Dennis LaHane. Reprinted with permission from Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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