Mystic River tells the story of three childhood friends, Jimmy, Sean and Dave, who are playing on the side of the road when a car pulls up to them and Dave gets into the car of a couple of child molesters while the other two are being left behind. After 4 days Dave comes back again, but he will never be the same as before.
25 years later the daughter of Jimmy is getting brutally murdered, Sean is with the police trying to solve this murder and Dave is coming home late at night with blood all over his clothes.
From this point on a story of loss, grief, revenge, regret and guilt unfolds, in which the emphasis of Lehanes narrative lies on the characters, not on the crime itself. The description of their feelings and their thoughts are so vivid that I actually felt like being in the same room with these characters.
And I felt like the overlying question of this novel is: What if? What if Jimmy and Sean would have prevented Dave from getting into the car? What if Jimmy or Sean would have gotten into the car? What if the three of them would have stayed friends after the incident? What if someone would have helped Dave, coping with his trauma? What if Jimmy wouldn´t have done certain things in his past? Just one different action could have changed the course of the story and in the end I just felt sad for everything that has transpired throughout the novel.
Mystic River is a great book, gripping and intense and wonderfully written, but I´m struggling to give a general reading recommendation. Everyone, who wants to read character driven drama, should grab this book but I will issue a warning: this book can make you feel emotionally exhausted (I certainly felt like this after finishing it).