Saturday, May 08, 2010

Books set in the Hamptons

Lately, it seems the Hamptons has been attracting more than celebrities and Wall Street types. Crime fiction authors, too, find these East End towns of Long Island attractive. And so murder comes to the Hamptons.

Chris Knopf brings us wise-cracking, former boxer and former engineer Sam Acquillo in The Last Refuge (see review here), Two Time, Head Wounds and Hard Stop, with a spinoff series featuring Acquillo friend and lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski in Short Squeeze. Knopf, who has a home in Southampton, creates lovely images of Little Peconic Bay. But that natural beauty is in opposition to the thugs and killers who also populate the books. Knopf's Hamptons is not that of the rich and famous who crowd it during the summer, but of the blue-collar worker who lives there year-round.

In that vein, but much darker, are Daniel Judson's noir thrillers (not a series, but all set in the Hamptons): The Bone Orchard, The Poisoned Rose, The Darkest Place, The Water's Edge and The Violet Hour (see review here). His Hamptons are almost unrecognizable: deserted, dark streets late at night, haunted characters and bad guys galore -- the body count can get quite high in a Judson book.

Amagansett by Mark Mills, published in 2004, also focuses on the working-class, especially the fishermen of Long Island. This standalone is set in the summer of 1947, and much of it deals with fishing traditions and the hard life of these men, who must also battle those wanting to place restrictions on their livelihood. There is, of course, a mystery here. The book opens with two fishermen pulling in a net, only to find a beautiful -- and dead -- woman tangled in the net.

Each author writes in a very different style, but they all capture the Hamptons in a real-life way.

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