Some stories are universal. Boy meets girl, they fall in love. Boy tries to rob high rise building, police officer messes it up and throws him off. Old gangster tries to go straight, his daughter gets killed. Mystic River follows the last one, in case you were curious.
Jimmy, Sean, and Dave grew up together, hanging out in Boston saying things like "wicked." Then Dave got in a car with some grown ups, got molested, Sean stopped hanging with the others, and Jimmy started robbing people. Fast forward, Jimmy's daughter gets murdered, Sean is investigating, and Dave is a suspect. Because that's how books work.
As snarky as I want to be because that's the switch they threw when I was born, this book held me the entire time. It's full of gritty, mean, and forceful writing that flows like the river it's named after. Like the rest of the man's books, it's just really damn well done. By the time the journey ends, the characters are as ragged as the reader, ready for their suffering to end.
Make no mistake, Dennis Lehane does not write happy books. Sunsets are not meant to be ridden into but feared for the night that follows. Still, after the story is done a satisfaction erupts from a story well told.