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Summary and book reviews of Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island

by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2003, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2004, 416 pages

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Book Summary

The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they may never leave Shutter Island. Because someone is trying to drive them insane.

Summer, 1954.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.

And neither is Teddy Daniels.

Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe’s radical approach to psychiatry? An approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing. . . .

Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?

As the investigation deepens, the questions only mount:

  • How has a barefoot woman escaped the island from a locked room?
  • Who is leaving clues in the form of cryptic codes?
  • Why is there no record of a patient committed there just one year before?
  • What really goes on in Ward C?
  • Why is an empty lighthouse surrounded by an electrified fence and armed guards?

The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they may never leave Shutter Island. Because someone is trying to drive them insane. . . .

Chapter One

Teddy Daniel's father had been a fisherman. He lost his boat to the bank in '31 when Teddy was eleven, spent the rest of his life hiring onto other boats when they had the work, unloading freight along the docks when they didn't, going long stretches when he was back at the house by ten in the morning, sitting in an armchair, staring at his hands, whispering to himself occasionally, his eyes gone wide and dark.

He'd taken Teddy out to the islands when Teddy was still a small boy, too young to be much help on the boat. All he'd been able to do was untangle the lines and tie off the hooks. He'd cut himself a few times, and the blood dotted his fingertips and smeared his palms.

They'd left in the dark, and when the sun appeared, it was a cold ivory that pushed up from the edge of the sea, and the islands appeared out of the fading dusk, huddled together, as if they'd been caught at something.

Teddy saw small, pastel-colored shacks lining the beach of one, a ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Miami Herald

The ride this novel provides is as good as entertainment gets.

New York Times

Startlingly original…instantly cinematic… unfolds with increasing urgency until it delivers a visceral shock in its final moments.

Orlando Sentinel

Nightmarish…it’s not a book to start before bedtime. Even if you finish before dawn, Shutter Island will trouble your sleep.

USA Today - Joseph Barbato

It has the headlong suspense and whopper of a story you would expect in any well-made thriller.

The New York Times - Marilyn Stasio

The atmosphere is properly dark and moody, and so long as Teddy and Chuck stick to the manhunt and their investigation of Ashecliffe's creepy medical staff, they play their roles with muscle and grace.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. After an extraordinarily humane series of neo-noirs (Mystic River, 2001, etc.), Lehane has produced a brilliantly far-fetched page-turner that’s sure to be the most talked-about thriller of the year.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. There is no mystery…about how good this book is; like Mystic River, it’s a tour de force.

Reader Reviews

Straberry

Why i like it so much
This movie is by far my favorite of all times, the director of it is a genius! it plays with our minds at first and i like that because it builds suspense. I highly recommend everyone to watch it, you will not regret it.

Raffie

Wonderful story!!
Shutter Island is one of the best book I have ever read in my life (and I have been averaging a book every two-three days for 33 years now). The characters are so real the reader feels for them; the plot is magnificent; the end is unpredictable and ...   Read More

sandee

great read
I loved this book. I'm not sure about the ending. Was Teddy crazy or did the island make him crazy?

Timmy O

This was a great one! I couldn't put it down and finished it in one day. Wow!

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