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Nicholas Nickleby
Charles Dickens, Mark Ford

Mystic River

Mystic River - Dennis Lehane When they were 11, Jimmy, Dave and Sean were playing in the street. A car came up to them, the men said they were cops, and took Dave away. Four days later he escaped from the cellar where they were holding him.The story picks up after that when the three are grown men. Jimmy has done time, Dave is still haunted by his four days in the hands of pedoephiles, and Sean is a cop with a marital problem.When Jimmy's daughter is murdered, their three lives collide again.Part murder-mystery, part police-procedural, the book never lags in it's pacing or the development of its twisting, intertwined relationships. In its gritty depictions of the squalor of "The Flats" the neighbourhood where Jimmy and Dave still live and part of Sean's beat, Lehane gives you a real sense of place and the people that inhabit that place, the drug dealers and the prostitutes, and also the good people trying to live their lives as best they can. The ones trying to escape as well as the ones who have accepted this is all life has for them and merely get on it.It's also a book about the sins of the fathers, and the sins of adults being passed onto children. Dave has animalistic, murderous urges brought on by his time in the cellar and tries to still them with drink and his family. Jimmy tries to put his criminal life behind him. Of all the characters, I think Sean has the least development. He's pretty much the same at the end as the start...maybe a little more humility and humanity in him.All the characters, even the minor ones, have lives and stories to tell, and you get the feeling of them going on in the background even when they aren't on the page. Seans partner, who returns one afternoon smelling of beer. The Savage brothers, who grew up in a room "the size of a Japanese radio." I like that line, a simple and elegant description.I figured out who the murderer of Jimmy's daughter was about halfway through, but then this was never really a book about a girl being murdered, and the search for who did it - the murderer is revealed in an almost throwaway scene and quickly dealt with and over.There's a real sense of place and characters here, a smell and taste of desperate people and determined people doing the best they can. They make mistakes like the rest of us (some of them deadly), and they don't admit to their mistakes, like the rest of us. Everyone in here is human, no stereotypes or cliches. No black or white, only tones of grey.Rough and smooth, in its appreciation for beauty and its monstrous ugliness, its desire for revenge and the difference between that and justice, all of human life is here.