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Amagansett Paperback – May 3, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425205800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425205808
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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... 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... 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School - In 1947, two fishermen find the body of a beautiful woman tangled in their net off Amagansett, Long Island. Both deny recognizing her, but Conrad Labarde is lying. The murder reveals the discord between the privileged who summer at beachfront houses and the men who live and work at the shore. Both Deputy Police Chief Tom Hollis and Conrad are determined to find the killer - Tom to salvage his reputation after a scandal drove him from the New York police force, and Conrad because he and Lillian had been having an affair. But since her family was one of the wealthiest of the "summer people," she could never marry him. Each man conducts his own investigation... This is a gripping story, with characters powerfully drawn against a tapestry of time and place. Conrad is the most memorable: he becomes a manipulator of men and events but is left with his loss; his only love, the sea; and his work, fishing. - Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, 'The Whaleboat House', won the 2004 Crime Writer's Association for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, 'The Savage Garden', was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and No 1 bestseller. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

A compelling story, wonderfully told!
Ellen Hanson
When it comes down to it...I enjoyed this book, and will read the next book by this author.
I really did enjoy this book; couldn't put it down the last 100 pages.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on November 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Amagansett", Mark Mills' first novel, is a thoughtful and intelligent, if unusual, murder mystery. Set in the post-World War south fork of Long Island, it is the tale of Conrad Labarde, a Basque immigrant fisherman who hauls a dead girl from the surf in his fishing nets. The dead girl, Lillian Wallace, is a member of the New York aristocracy who "summer" on Hampton's beaches. As Mills patiently unwinds the story, we learn that the stoic Labarde is a highly decorated war hero, having served in a secretive commando team in the European theatre. But this is but one of the secrets that gradually materialize in the rigid demarcations between Amagansett's opposing social strata's.

At times slow moving, rambling in others, "Amagansett" is nonetheless beautifully written and carefully researched. If you appreciate a bit of history as well as some education in your fiction, you'll find both in this largely overlooked period between WWII and the Cold War, and the somewhat obscure and forgotten dunes and fishing towns of Long Island. The characters, if somewhat stereotyped, have depth and hold interest, especially in the vivid portrait of the virtually extinct culture of east coast shore fishermen. The standard clichés of the evil rich and the noble poor threaten at times to overpower the story, but Mills atones with a climax that is genuinely thrilling and features a few unexpected twists. All things considered, this complex and elegant novel is an impressive debut; I suspect we'll be hearing much more of Mark Mills.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Awesome Reviewer on August 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I walked into Barnes and Noble and requested a book I saw reviewed in People. It sounded fascinating, but it had a strange name I couldn't remember or pronounce. The bookseller said several people had asked for it, but nobody could remember the title, a "wierd Indian name," as she stated. Luckily, People magazine was there, and we figured it out from that.
I'm glad I persevered - it is a beautifully written debut novel. It centers around the murder of a young, beautiful high society woman, Lillian Wallace, whose body was found by shell-shocked veteran and fisherman Conrad Labarde. As detective Tom Hollis delves into the mystery, he discovers a web of deceit involving the highest society on Long island, which ensnares members of two groups at conflict with each other, the fishermen and the high society, and resurrects lies going back years before to an unsolved murder of a young girl. Each intricate discovery brings a new surprise, and the climax is chilling and satisfying. The author also skillfully weaves in the mood and events of the times; prohibition, World War II and the crumbling of the classes. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and both the detective Hollis and the fisherman Conrad are sympathetically and intriguingly portrayed as Conrad draws Hollis into the mystery and uses Hollis' skills to achieve a brilliant resolution. The lingering effects of war upon a veteran are senstively shown. Finally, the cross-class romance is believable since it contains none of the usual tired stereotypes, but instead is an honest love between two people struggling with their pasts.
This is a mystery far above the norm, and I would strongly recommend it. I look forward to Mark Mills' next book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ben F. Small on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
1947. East Hampton, NY. Conrad Labarde, a Basque immigrant fisherman, finds a dead woman in his seine. Another drowning? But Lillian Wallace swam every day. Her room wasn't slept in, but the toilet seat's up. And why was she wearing pearl earrings? She never wore them when she swam. What's wrong here?

So begins a mystery unique, deep and textured. Conrad and Tom Hollis, Deputy Chief, are unlikely allies, but they appear to be the only ones who think the tragic drowning of Lillian Wallace may have been something more than a sad but not uncommon summer's misadventure. And they're both loners; they don't know or trust each other. So why are they being pressured to leave the death alone? Hollis hates his job and wants to split. Conrad is just surviving. He's a war hero coping with trauma: family sadness, the loss of love, and post-trauma stress disorder. What do these men have in common? Only a sense that something's wrong with the Lillian Wallace picture, and it must be made right. The smell of money pollutes the air. Blue fins run.

Mark Mills has written a stellar novel: more than a mystery, literary, but going someplace. Just don't ask me to pronounce the title. Mills' descriptions of the deceptive seas, the fine points of commercial fishing, and the struggles of local fishing families living like crabs in the bolt-holes, pockets and hard-up interiors of the developing post-war East Hampton are full and textured. East Hampton is both a sea-based rural community, where life is hard and values are simple and well-learned, and a playground for the rich and powerful, where rules bend under the weight of money. How does the murder of Lillian Wallace span this expanding culture chasm?

You won't soon be lending "Amagansett."
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amagansett is a terrific thriller/mystery. It is a well-told story that begins with a body of beautiful young woman washing up on the shore of Long Island in the town of Amagansett several years after World War II. The story intertwines the lives of the fishermen who find the body, the detective investigating the death and the woman herself. Was she murdered, or was this just an unfortunate drowning? There are many surprises in this novel that the reader will discover in various parts of the novel. This is a fun, engrossing read--one you could read in one sitting if you have a couple hours to kill. People magazine was not wrong in recommending this one. Enjoy.
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