Gary was right, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane is probably the best crime novel out there for discussion groups. My lunchtime group recently discussed this title and all of them laughed when they realized they were going to be late getting back to work as we were completely caught up in the conversation.
When asked if this was a book about a murder and solving the murder, one reader piped up with a firm “No.” She said this is a book about the small decisions we make in our lives and the impact they can have years later on us and how we may never even recognize the connections.
One reader said she felt the book had a claustrophobic feel. The neighborhood had such a strong hold on its residents and in some cases, seemed to dictate a character’s life path. She used Dave as an example. He couldn’t leave the neighborhood after his horrifying kidnap experience as a child, and even though it wasn’t his fault, the neighborhood folks seemed to blame him for it.
Another reader responded that Dave understood better than any other character, especially Jimmy, how the choices you make can come back to haunt you. She felt that Jimmy should have understood this concept better, but didn’t really grasp it until the very end when Sean tells Jimmy who killed his daughter.
When asked if the novel could have taken place in any other large urban area, readers mused that it was possible, but the Boston neighborhoods of The Point, The Flats, and East Bucky had a character as strong as the residents.
The group is looking forward to the combination film/book discussion to be held later in the month. Like most readers, they expect to like the book better, but they’re keeping their minds open.