Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane

Three boys are fighting on a street when a police car rolls up, gives them a telling off, and makes one of the boys get into the car to take him home. Only it's not a police car. Twenty or so years later, the same three boys have grown into men, and their paths cross as the result of a murder. But the affects of the childhood abduction seem somehow still to be influencing events.

The book was reasonably long, but didn't feel over-stretched: there was a little in there which wasn't directly relevant to the main plot. And the writing was really good: I think it would have reminded me of John Sandford even if the audiobook hadn't been read by the excellent Richard Ferrone.

The only criticism I had of the book was that the epilogue felt unnecessary, and I think the book would have been better without it. But even if I read it again, I don't suppose I'll be able to help reading the epilogue: you don't want the book to end, so any extra is irresistable.

After reading the book, I watched the film (not having realised previously that there was an Oscar-winning cinema adaptation, directed by Clint Eastwood).

I was rather underwhelmed by the film though: compared to the book it felt extremely rushed and a lot of the time I was thinking "well, I know what's going on, but how on earth would you be able to follow this if you'd not read the book?"

Certain bits of narrative were identical to the book (rather like The Ghost) but although they omitted certain bits of the plot (e.g. backstory for the policeman whose wife had left him) it seemed like they'd included nearly all the main story but in a very abbreviated form, rather than cutting parts of it so they could spend more time focusing on things that were central to the plot.

One little thing I noticed was that in the book, the father's antipathy towards his daughter's boyfriend is explained by the fact that the boyfriend's father was an enemy, and "the acorn never falls far from the tree". Which struck me at the time as being a variant on the expression I'd not heard before. But in the film, Sean Penn says "the apple never falls far from the tree".

But the film was very well received critically so I think my perception must have been distorted by having finished the book the same day.

I have another Dennis Lehane audiobook ready to go.

Completed : 28-Jan-2013 (audiobook)

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