Dennis Lehane breaks away from his characteristic noir and masterfully leaps into new territory with SHUTTER ISLAND, a superb tale of psychological suspense that takes his characters and the reader into a surreal reality. The physical violence and vigilante justice prevalent in Lehane's previous works are replaced by terrors of another sort—those of the mind.

It's 1954, and U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent to Shutter Island in Boston Harbor to search for a patient who has escaped from Ashcliffe Hospital, a federal prison for the criminally insane. As their search proceeds and they interview doctors, staff and patients, the marshals suspect their presence on the island is for a purpose other than finding the missing patient. The distinction between reality and fantasy blurs as the dark road of madness on the island leads to an ending that will chill readers to the bone.

SHUTTER ISLAND is a head trip all the way, told with exquisite, crisp prose. Characters and setting come alive on this dark island, but it is the gripping journey into the recesses of madness that will linger with the reader. Undoubtedly—and deservedly—many will judge this to be Lehane's best yet. (May, 352 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jo Peters