Snow Falling on Cedars meets The Shipping News in this enthralling literary crime novel set in post World War II Long Island. Read by Kerry Shale. 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. In unravelling the mystery, this haunting and evocative novel captures a community whose way of life is disappearing, its demise hastened by war in Europe and the incursions of wealthy city dwellers in search of a playground.
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Mark Mills is a screenwriter. His film credits include The Reckoning, an adaptation of Barry's Unsworth's Morality Play, due for release in spring 2004. Amagansett is his first novel.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* 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 about a shocking murder in the Long Island community of Amagansett in the years immediately following World War II. When Basque fisherman Conrad Labarde lands the body of a New York socialite in his net, he knows it means trouble--for the Long Island natives, struggling to preserve their way of life against the onslaught of Manhattan wealth, and especially for him personally, since the victim was his lover. Screenwriter Mills expertly blends the fascinating history of Long Island's south shore into his story, incorporating not only the stories of immigrant fishermen but also those of Native Americans, the first group to be dispossessed as the island became more attractive to rich people. The novel combines a touching love story, told in flashback, with a nicely detailed procedural starring an unlikely investigative duo: the taciturn Basque and the Amagansett assistant police chief, who hopes to resurrect his career in the wake of scandal. Literarily inclined cop-novel fans will be reminded of Michael Malone, while nongenre types will find elements of John Casey's Spartina (1989) in the fishing story and in the conflict between locals and summer people. This is a novel to savor, both for its portrait of rough-hewn individuals finding selfhood beyond the breakers and for its snapshot of the postwar world not yet locked in the death grip of modernity. Bill Ott
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