Thursday, September 25, 2003

Streams of 'Mystic River' fed by Lehane's old town
By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
A decade ago, novelist Dennis Lehane was living in the Charlestown section of Boston, an old working-class Irish neighborhood, when he saw the first hints of gentrification.
Lehane says he wondered "what would happen to the neighborhood once the Saabs outnumbered the Chevys and the corner store became a Starbucks."

Sean Penn stars in the film version of Mystic River, out in October.
By Merie W. Wallace, Warner Bros.

That became the seeds of the setting for his murder mystery, Mystic River, the latest selection of the USA TODAY Book Club.

A few years later, Lehane says, "a sentence started bopping around in my head: 'Brendan Harris loved Katie Marcus like crazy, loved her like movie-love, with an orchestra booming through his blood ....'" And that became the first sentence of the part of the novel set in the present.

"Pretty soon after that," Lehane says, "the rest of the characters began to wander onto the stage and scuff the floorboards and start looking at me like, 'So what do you want us to do here, boss?' "

Which, more or less, is how Lehane came to write the novel about three childhood friends entangled in a murder 25 years later — as father of the victim, police investigator and suspect. The movie version opens next month.

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