Great book. Go read it.
That was easy!
Ok, seriously, if you saw the movie but didn't read the book, this is still a great work of thrilling fiction. The story centers around a federal marshall trying to investigate the disappearance of a "patient" at an insane asylum. A home for the very very violent. He's also trying to learn more about his past, and come to grips with the person that killed his wife.
It's quick, with well-rounded characters and a writing style that can throw you off at times, just like being in an insane asylum would. One stylistic choice Lehane makes often is the use of a run-on sentence, something your teachers told you never to do.
In some paragraphs he can have a sentence of thirty, forty words all connected by the word "and". Why? Because that's his style for demonstrating high action - things moving around and characters making decisions and objects falling while people are running at them and throwing things and then the character slips on the rocks and falls, etc. etc. It's a useful tool, and one that comes across well when used sparingly. By bringing it out during those intense sense, Lehane wraps you in the frenetic movement of the scene, and you become as engrossed in the action as any other book I've read.
It's also a great example of foreshadowing, but not in obvious ways. The attitude of the staff while the main character is investigating a disappearance portends to a wild ending, but you would never even think that until you get to the ending. You know, some books drop hints that smack you in the face and you think, "Well obviously they're going to hook up in the end" or something. You feel you've figured it out way too early. Here, like the great mystery writers of old, Lehane doesn't give you a friggin' clue about the disappearance of the patient, and in fact detracts you from the main cause so well that you almost forget someone's disappeared. Only when it all comes together do you have that "wow" moment.
If you've seen the movie you know what I mean, but still, I recommend you reading it. Knowing the ending won't tarnish the read, it'll just make you more aware of how brilliantly Lehane hides that ending. If you haven't seen or read the book, go to it! Either one was enjoyable, but as usual, the book is better than the movie.
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