In his five Kenzie-Gennaro novels, the detective duo is at the nexus of Lehane's big bang. Darkly funny and just this side of jaded, Angie and Patrick move through Dorchester's bleak streets with an assurance born of familiarity. It's impossible to imagine these streets without the pair, or to imagine the pair away from those streets. Mystic River, then, arrives as a bit of a gamble, as Lehane moves from the sharp edges of portraiture to the broader strokes of landscape. No Angie, no Patrick: this neighborhood is on its own. It's not any prettier and certainly no friendlier, and its working-class façade still barely masks the irresistible tug of violent ways, means, and ends.
Twenty-five years ago, Dave Boyle got into a car. When he came back four days later, he was different in a way that destroyed his friendship with Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus. Now Sean's a cop, Jimmy's a store owner with a prison record and mob connections, and Dave's trying hard to keep his demons safely submerged. When Jimmy's daughter Katie is found murdered, each of the men must confront a past that none is eager to acknowledge. Lehane tugs delicately on the strands that weave this neighborhood together, testing for their strengths and weaknesses; this novel seems as much anthropological case study as thriller.
By turns violent and pensive, Mystic River is vintage Lehane. How good is it? You may go in missing Angie and Patrick, but after a few pages you won't even realize they're gone. Lehane's noir is still black magic. --Kelly Flynn