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Amagansett: A Novelby Mark Mills
Synopses & Reviews
When a first-generation Basque fisherman pulls in the body of a beautiful young woman, his close-knit Long Island community will be irrevocably changed. As sweeping and haunting as its backdrop, Amagansett is an unforgettable evocation of life's epic forces.
"A mysterious drowning rekindles a conflict between a Basque-American fisherman and a powerful Long Island family in screenwriter Mills's smart, complex debut novel, a fascinating murder mystery that begins in the post-WWII years when Conrad Labarde hauls up the body of Lillian Wallace in his net while earning his livelihood in the waters off the Hamptons. At first the drowning looks like a tragic accident, but when the autopsy report raises the possibility of murder and Labarde's history with the Wallaces is uncovered, police chief Tom Hollis suspects Labarde of playing a central role in Lillian's death. Further investigation, however, casts suspicion on the powerful Wallace family, specifically Lillian's former boyfriend, Justin Penrose, and her ambitious brother Manfred, the latter of whom may have been involved in a deadly hit-and-run accident. As Mills weaves together the various plot threads, he ably paints the Hamptons as a social battleground for the local fisherman, the Jewish residents and the wealthier sport fishermen. Mills saves his trump card for the climax, in which Labarde baits Manfred Wallace into a final confrontation while cleverly forcing Hollis to play a pivotal role in their face-off. Probing, morally nuanced and rich with period detail, this is a fine first novel. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. Foreign rights sold in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"When a literary thriller succeeds beyond genre, it's often because the book's sense of place gives it extra depth. So it is in this striking first novel....This is a novel to savor..." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Strong debut melodrama, solid as granite, not a cliche in sight....Sea, sky, tossing waves, curling whitecaps, foam, rowboats cutting through a wild unrest (as Whitman puts it) — not to mention high humor and heartfelt sex." Kirkus Reviews
"Screenwriter Mills's debut novel is a taut, suspenseful drama filled with well-crafted characters and wonderful descriptions of Long Island. Its solid plot and tantalizing subject matter will win over many readers; highly recommended." Library Journal
"Mills' clean, spare prose brings his Greek tragedy to life quickly and suggestively." Chicago Tribune
"While retaining some of the key components of a mystery...[Mills] stuffs his book's supple center with hypertestosteroned subplots in a bid to reach beyond the genre for something grander." Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
"A remarkable first novel...Written with all the wit, lyric language and slow character development one would search for in the literary fiction department, the book is as rich in time frame and location as any you'd find in the best historical fiction." Los Angeles Times
"[W]onderfully descriptive and cleverly plotted. I enjoyed Labarde as he maneuvered everything into place. You gain a great deal of respect for him, but also for Hollis, who puts together the pieces of the puzzle well." BookReporter.com
As sweeping and haunting as the landscape of sky and sea that is its backdrop, Amagansett skillfully weaves a delicate love story, a brutal murder mystery, and unforgettable evocation of a place and time, and characters shaped by epic forces of nature, class, war, and memory.
In the small town of Amagansett, perched on Long Island's windswept coast, generations have followed the same calling as their forefathers, fishing the dangerous Atlantic waters. Little has changed in the three centuries since white settlers drove the Montaukett Indians from the land. But for Conrad Labarde, a second-generation Basque immigrant recently returned from the Second World War, and his fellow fisherman Rollo Kemp, this stability is shattered when a beautiful New York socialite turns up dead in their nets.
On the face of it, her death was accidental, but deputy police chief Tom Hollis - an incomer from New York - is convinced the truth lies in the intricate histories and family secrets of Amagansett's inhabitants. Meanwhile the enigmatic Labarde is pursuing his own investigation.
About the Author
Mark Mills is a screenwriter whose credits include the script for The Reckoning.
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