By People Staff
April 21, 2003 12:00 PM

by Dennis Lehane

Critic’s Choice


The year is 1954. U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels travels to Ashecliffe Hospital, a prison for the criminally insane on a rat-infested island in Boston Harbor. Teddy must find Rachel Solando, a murderer who has escaped from her locked cell in the middle of the night, before the worst hurricane to hit the East Coast in 30 years slams into the island.

Teddy, a liberator of the Dachau concentration camp who has a phobia of water and haunting memories of his wife’s death, struggles to decipher a set of coded formulas Solando left behind. The prison psychiatrists aren’t much help: They may be more demented than the inmates.

Although Lehane’s latest doesn’t have the multifaceted power of his 2001 bestseller Mystic River (the Clint Eastwood-directed film version is due in October), he has crafted a thriller as exciting as an elaborate video game (now Teddy makes his way down a craggy cliff to recover an important clue; now he’s sneaking into a fort). If you like books that will make great movies, then this one is for you. (Morrow, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Strong Island