"Amagansett" by Mark Mills

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An atmospheric mystery set in mid-20th-Century Long Island, “Amagansett” sets forth the conflict arising from a determined fisherman’s investigation into a socialite’s murder. Amagansett is a small fishing village on Long Island’s southern coast; it is peopled by groups who bookend the society: the local fishing population, who struggle to make a living, share it with an elite group of vacationing urbanites which commands all the best in goods and service.

Conrad Labarde, a rough-hewn Basque immigrant and WWII veteran, and his fishing partner discover the body of the beautiful daughter of one of the upper-crust families, who has drowned in the ocean. He has his own mysterious route to the solution, whether or not Hollis, the deputy sheriff investigating the mishap, believes him, or even suspects him. Labarde displays an unexplained urgency in finding the killer, for he’s convinced this was no accident, but as the narrative proceeds, the reader becomes more and more sure of the reason for his single-mindedness.

Mark Mills delivers an engrossing mystery, with a highly unorthodox hero. We follow as Labarde keeps his eyes on the prize while juggling his other responsibilities, which include first and foremost his quirky, not-all-there business partner. We’re let into Hollis’s motivations too, which stem here from swirling suspicions about his behavior as an NYC detective. At length, Mr. Mills’s mystery is inventive and memorable, almost enthralling. He finishes with an excellent, cinematic climax, a fine denouement for the well-treated reader.

I recommend this, highly. As a debut effort, it’s very impressive.
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