Mystic River: Book Review

Denise Lehane’s Mystic River is one of those novels that is haunting yet impossible to put down. It raises many questions and enough plot twists too have you wondering until the last few pages. See why this novel went on to win a bunch of awards and became an iconic movie.

Mystic River Summary

It was a normal day for the three boys -Sean Devine, Dave Boyle, and Jimmy Marcus. They were messing around and playing on the street and suddenly a cop car pulls up. 

The two cops interrogate the three boys for messing around and try to get them to get into the back of the car. Sean and Jimmy talk out of getting into the car but Doyle doesn’t. He gets into the back of the car and as it drives away, he looks back at his friends of the back window.

Doyle has been kidnapped and the police search for him. He has been abducted by two child molesters. A week later, Doyle escapes and returns home emotionally scarred.

Twenty five years later, Jimmy is a former criminal who has changed his life and now ruins a convenience store. His daughter is supposed to come in to work but she hasn’t. Jimmy learns that she has been murdered and her body was found at the city park.

Mystic River book cover
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane summary

Sean is a cop and he has to walk a fine line of trying to solve the crime and preventing Jimmy from taking things into his own hands. As the clues start to pile up, the signs point to Doyle. He was one of the last people to see Jimmy’s daughter and he returned home with a bloodied shirt.

Who killed Jimmy’s daughter and what does it have to do with the kidnapping from 25 years ago? Would things have turned out different if Doyle didn’t get in the car?


The book won the Dilys Award in 2002, an award given to to the best mystery novel of the year that booksellers enjoyed selling. It also won a bunch of Academy Awards for the movie in 2003.

I was fully immersed in the novel, the plot, and the whole whodunnit angle. I will say the ending was not expected and makes you feel like you would never have gotten it. If you. did guess the killer, then you deserve a trophy.The movie is also very good and I recommend both. Some of the best acting you will see. Lehane’s novels are always entertaining and this one did not disappoint.


If you enjoy a good mystery novel, then this book is for you. Lehane is a great writer and uses misdirection perfectly. When you think you have the case solved, he makes sure that you don’t see the next twist coming!

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