In Dennis Lehane’s creepy and suspenseful Shutter Island, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck arrive on Shutter Island to find a missing inmate from Ashecliffe Asylum. What seems like a routine investigation is swiftly put off the rails by the uneasy atmosphere at Ashecliffe, and all of the secrets the people in charge seem to be keeping. Teddy has his own demons to work though at the same time, having recently lost his wife.
I can’t believe I’m only getting to this novel now. I never saw the movie, either, so the ending remained unspoiled for me. I enjoyed the dark, film noir feel of this, with the tortured war veteran and his dark past, his solitary nature, his desire for revenge. He’s a great character, flawed yet remaining sympathetic.
The plotting of this novel is so intricate and so well-constructed. I can’t out-do the Kirkus reviewer on this one: it’s a “lollapalooza of a corkscrew thriller.” You start questioning your own sanity by midway through, and I mean that in the best possible way. The twist is revealed in one of the best scenes I’ve read lately, where the stakes are high for everyone involved and the emotion of it all seems very real.
The setting is fantastic, both gritty and Gothic, perfect for the story. Ashecliffe is depicted as a brutal relic from another century, and its maximum security isolation on an island is perfect.
Lots of diverse readalikes present themselves for this one, depending on what you enjoyed the most. Noir and crime fiction from the 1950’s might really appeal to you, if you liked that aspect of the story. The grittier the better. There’s also something very Gothic about the creepy atmosphere and sense of danger at the asylum. You might enjoy John Harwood’s The Asylum (I talked about it here). I also thought of The Boy Who Could See Demons while reading this, which you can read more about at this post.
If you want just a smidge more of the Nazi subplot, some aliens, and a ton of Sarah Paulsen, you might want to check out the second season of American Horror Story, which took place at an insane asylum in Massachusetts. Here, I can show this clip on a family-friendly blog (trust me, the entire season is just as nuts as this, but in different ways).
The Edgar Awards, presented by Mystery Writers of America, are the most prestigious awards given for the mystery genre. This year’s winners were announced on May 2nd in New York. Click here for a full list of winners and nominees.
I’m sorry to say I’ve not read either one yet, so I haven’t any comments. However, having read and adored Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I’m a bit surprised she didn’t get the prize. Not that Live By Night doesn’t sound great–it’s set in the gritty crime world of the Roaring Twenties, and by all accounts is one that I should certainly put on my t0-read list. Speaking of, The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye, another runner-up, has been on my to-read list for a while. I think I’ve started it twice and then put it down in favor of a thriller or something.
Years ago I used to read mysteries all the time. The literary mystery was my favorite genre. My tastes have evolved into a preference for suspense and thriller. I enjoy mystery elements, I’ve found, but I’m not in it for the puzzle or the solution. I’m in it for twists and turns and a big reveal, which sometimes occurs in mysteries, but happens more often in suspense.
The Edgar Awards honor all types and sub-genres of mystery. Here’s a link to the Edgars Database, where you can search all past winners and nominees.
Also, congratulations to one of my favorite programs, Sherlock–Steven Moffatt snagged a Best TV Episode Teleplay award for the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia.” Obsessive nerdy fangirl that I am, I have to say that was my personal least favorite episode–I thought “The Reichenbach Fall” was much better, both as an episode and as a mystery…maybe it didn’t win because there’s no solution yet?
I can’t think of a good way to end this post, so enjoy this picture of my very favorite Sherlock Holmes and John Watson team:
These two are a *very* close second, though: