Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is a horrifying book that I’ve read three times now. It’s perfect for a sick day: it has large print, it reads quickly, and it’s absorbing enough to distract from flu-y aches and fever. I find something fresh each time through, and I’ve yet to read it in more than one sitting.
In the year 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate an unexplained disappearance. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept under constant surveillance in a locked, guarded cell. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on the island, hints of radical experimentation and covert government machinations add darker, more sinister shades to an already bizarre case. Because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.
Much of the praise I’ll heap on Slade House will sound as though it’s been lifted from my review of The Bone Clocks. The two books share a character, a general theme, and an impressive range of voices.
Down the road from a working-class pub, along a narrow brick alley, you just might find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find you can’t. Every nine years, the residents of Slade House extend an invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently-divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside? For those who find out, it’s already too late…