Mystic River Book Summary, by Dennis Lehane

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1-Page Summary of Mystic River

Overall Summary

Dennis Lehane’s novel, Mystic River, follows the lives of three friends who have a traumatic event. Twenty-five years later, they are forced to deal with one another again when one daughter is found dead. The book won an award and was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood in 2002.

The plot summary of the movie is as follows: Dave Boyle, Jimmy Marcus and Sean Devine are friends who live in Boston. They are all 11 years old when they meet two men named Henry and George. The men offer them a ride home from school one day, but only Dave accepts their invitation. He doesn’t come back for four days, during which time it’s assumed that he was molested by the two men in the car. When he returns to his neighborhood, no one asks him about what happened during those four days because everyone assumes that something bad happened to him while he was with Henry and George. This incident serves as a springboard for other events in the film; however, we never find out exactly what happens between Dave and Henry and George or how this incident affects his life after that point.

Twenty-five years ago, Dave was a soldier in the Vietnam War. He had been with his squad for about two months before they got ambushed and he lost most of them. Dave and Sean were among those who survived the ambush, but it changed their lives forever. Now Dave is married to Celeste and has a son named Michael; however, he still struggles to deal with his trauma from the war. In addition, he’s ashamed of his pedophilic urges that continue to haunt him since returning home from Vietnam. On the other hand, Sean is now a homicide detective dealing with some messy issues in his marriage as well as having lost one wife already due to cancer; despite this loss though, Jimmy remains married to Annabeth (Celeste’s cousin), fathering three daughters: Katie (the oldest), Nadine,and Sara. When Katie gets murdered by an unknown serial killer while walking home from school one day after school—her body found dumped on her front lawn—Sean takes on the case because no one else will do so.

The night Katie was murdered, Dave came home covered in blood. He told Celeste that he had been mugged, but she didn’t believe him. The police suspected Dave of killing Katie and began to investigate him for her murder. Jimmy learned that the police were investigating Dave and decided to take justice into his own hands by murdering Dave himself. However, it turned out that someone else killed Katie: a pedophile who had been stalking her online for months. After learning this information from the detective investigating the case, Jimmy confronted Dave about it and ended up killing him anyway.

After Dave’s death, the police discover that two 13-year old boys murdered Katie. They are Silent Ray and his brother Brendan, who is Katie’s boyfriend. Although Sean and Celeste know it was Jimmy who killed Dave, they have no proof to take him down for good. Jimmy decides to get back into the crime world in order to protect those he loves from being hurt by anyone else. Sean vows to take down Jimmy once and for all. In death, however, Dave finally finds peace with himself and his family members’ forgiveness of him before he died earlier that night

Mystic River is a novel about the lasting impressions of trauma and childhood friendships. It considers what loyalty means and evaluates justice, particularly in terms of how it relates to human nature.

Chapter 1: “The Point and the Flats”

Sean and Jimmy were friends simply because their fathers worked at the same candy factory. Dave, a boy from Jimmy’s neighborhood would sometimes tag along. One day Sean realizes that he is not someone who steals cars and backs out of stealing one with Jimmy and Dave. They begin to fight over it, but two police officers drive up in an unmarked car. The men chastise them for fighting in the street and ask if they live around there (the Flats). When Dave tells the truth about where he lives, they blame him for starting the fight. The cops force him into their car while Sean watches as his friend gets taken away by authority figures.

Mystic River Book Summary, by Dennis Lehane

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