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In Mystic River, Dennis Lehane draws a cross-hatched portrait of a working class Boston neighborhood with such an involving richness the book almost doesn’t need its main murder: the killing of a young woman. Her death throws her father, a hard guy gone straight, back into the orbit of the two men with whom he was involved in a childhood trauma. One is now a detective assigned to the case. The other is a cipher. James Lee Burke, author of the Robicheaux detective novels, has called Mystic River “the best crime novel in the English language.” Clint Eastwood’s 2003 adaptation of the 2001 best seller was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won for their performances. —Karl Vick

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