Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My new addiction: Dennis Lehane

Every summer my family goes to Cape Cod (Provincetown to be exact) on vacation, and every summer I try to find something captivating to read on the beach. Should be pretty easy, right? But what could captivate the attention of a twenty-something man in a place where people are basically lying in the sun in their underwear with a gorgeous beach only twenty feet away? So many distractions... However, this year I was introduced to an even bigger distraction--Shamus Award-winning author Dennis Lehane.

If you've seen the films Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, or Shutter Island, then you've had some contact with Lehane, whose novels these movies were based on. Before taking the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, I was looking through the many fluffy paperbacks on the rack at the bookstore kiosk. Stephen King? No. Dean Koontz? No. Danielle Steele? Absolutely not! And then I was drawn to the cover of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island, a faux-pulp neo-noir murder mystery taking place on an island that houses an insane asylum. Yes! Something I can really sink my teeth into! Something that will keep me up at night! So off on the ferry I went, Lehane in hand, and once on the Cape, beachward.

Mr. Lehane has that rare gift for prose that envelopes the reader, especially New Englanders like myself. I spent my first day on the beach inside Shutter Island's dark, twisted world and loved every minute of it. In a couple days I was trolling the used bookstore for more by the author, and found Mystic River. Once again I opened the page and fell in, not to return until the surprise ending.

I'm not sure why I'm drawn to that darker, more sinister New England, but Poe would be proud. Lehane, a Boston native, paints in eerie detail the seediest parts of Boston life -- crime, corruption, melancholy, violence -- and I can't get enough! So if you haven't gone on vacation yet, I highly recommend picking up one of these novels. I only hope for your sake you can put it down.

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