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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Lehane, Dennis: Shutter Island

  Amazon  

4 stars

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule have taken the ferry from Boston to Shutter Island, the site of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, a maximum security institution. Daniels has been called in to help locate an escaped patient, a certain Rachel Solando, who found herself in Ashecliffe after murdering her three children. How Rachel escaped is a mystery, though the fact that she managed to break out of a locked room and get past several manned checkpoints and a gaggle of poker-playing orderlies suggests that she had a lot of help.

The fact of Rachel's escape is not the only strange thing about Teddy's new assignment. Rachel's doctor is also missing, having left for his vacation immediately after her escape. That he was allowed to leave is a serious breach of standard operating procedure in a lockdown, yet Ashecliffe's deputy warden and the hospital's Chief of Staff seem unconcerned. There is, too, the mystery of what really goes on at the hospital. Rumor has it that the doctors engage in horrific experimental surgeries, ice pick lobotomies on patients who are not anesthetized. Certainly it is suspicious that the old lighthouse, now allegedly functioning as a sewage treatment plant, is under heavy guard and is wrapped in electrified fencing.

Reading Shutter Island, my review of the book writing itself in my head, I was going to say that the story is pretty good, if perhaps unbelievable in parts--the marshals' mounting paranoia and this forbidding facility where creepy things happen, an island they can't leave until a ferry, delayed by a hurricane, returns for them. The book would, I thought, make a decent movie, perhaps a better movie than it is a book because--and this was my chief complaint--the dialogue between Teddy and Chuck is so terribly clunky.

"They do it, and it's legal. Only humans get schizophrenia. It doesn't happen to rats or rabbits or cows. So how are you going to test cures for it?"

"On humans."

"Give that man a cigar."

"A cigar that's just a cigar, though, right?" [groan]

Teddy said, "If you like."

There are, in addition, some unbelievable dream sequences that annoyed me. Nobody talks--or nobody should talk--like Teddy and Chuck do, and nobody has dreams as vivid as Teddy has.

But....

But then I read the last fifty pages of the book--which went very fast indeed--and I forgave Lehane the dreams and the clunky dialogue because, I now think, they make sense given the plot. It's a good book. And I still think it would make a good movie.

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