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Black Swan (A Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery) Hardcover – May 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A sudden storm drives Sam Acquillo and his girlfriend, Amanda Anselma, and their sailboat into harbor at Fishers Island in Knopf's tense fifth mystery featuring the ex-corporation man turned Long Island carpenter (after 2009's Hard Stop). While the couple await parts for their disabled boat, Christian Fey, the owner of the Black Swan, a small hotel Fey runs with his grown daughter and son, reluctantly gives them lodging. Other guests at the Black Swan, equally unwelcome, are Fey's three former business partners in a software company he helped found and to whom he apparently sold. When one of the former partners dies in circumstances that suggest a killer in their midst, Sam must ferret out the corporate secrets that threaten to engulf him and Amanda as well as the Feys. The vivid descriptions of an angry sea and the monster storm that strikes the island fairly dwarf the human threats facing Sam and Amanda. (May)
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Knopf has mastered the verbal drill for tough guys in tight situations, and like Sam s nautical know-how, his banter with imperfect strangers is a cut above the norm. (Called out on a tactless remark and asked what s wrong with him, he replies: Chronic inappropriateness. ) This unexpected sail into danger makes for a stimulating story, providing Sam with a lot to tell the gang at the bar when he finally gets home. --The New York Times

Despite its title, Sam Acquillo s fifth adventure has nothing to do with the movies, at least not movies about high-strung, overworked ballerinas. As a favor to his wealthy lawyer friend Burton Lewis, engineer-turned-carpenter Sam and his girlfriend, banker-turned-contractor Amanda Anselma, are sailing Burton s boat, Carpe Ma ana, down from Maine when rough seas on Long Island Sound force them to put in at Fishers Island. Christian Fey, the retired computer genius of Subversive Technologies, is less than enthusiastic about putting them up at the Black Swan, the inn he recently purchased, and his son Axel, an autistic savant, is no more effusive. But Fey s daughter Anika welcomes Sam with open arms and bedclothes. The Edenic temptations she offers are complemented by the arrival of the serpent Derrick Hammon, Subversive s new CEO, with an entourage that includes his put-upon female companion Del Rey; Bernard t Hooft, who s more than just muscle, and Jock and Pierre, who are just muscle. The guest list is completed by Subversive co-founder Myron Sanderfreud, who s barely checked in when he checks out, and his wife Grace, whose role is limited to screaming. When the island s sole law-enforcement officer is beaten nearly to death and her replacement locked in a cell in his own jail, it s obvious that the winds have blown in quite another screenplay, this one from Key Largo, and that only Sam has the stuff to play the Bogart role --Kirkus Reviews

Praise for the Sam Acquillo mysteries: Knopf has a touch I like -- cool, careful, reflective -- and a great ear for the comic eccentricities of the human voice. --The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Series: A Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Press (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157962216X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579622169
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Knopf is the author of Dead Anyway (winner of the 2013 Nero Award), Cries of the Lost and the Sam Acquillo mystery series, including The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds (which won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery), Hard Stop, and Black Swan.

Chris has been writing himself out of trouble since he talked a teacher into accepting a short story in lieu of an essay, and an essay in lieu of a multiple choice exam. A college professor wrote a comment on a friend's paper that would have also applied to him: "You write well, which is good because you have very little command of the subject matter."

To support his fiction habit he started working in marketing communications. That evolved into a career as an advertising copywriter and later a creative director at Mintz & Hoke Advertising and PR, which he and his wife Mary Farrell took over in 2000.

His preferred environment involves a lot of saltwater, having summered as a youth on the Jersey Shore. He lives with his wife Mary Farrell in Connecticut and Southampton, NY, where he sets sail on the Little Peconic Bay.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By copy righter on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In nautical circles a boat that has been fastidiously maintained down to the last little detail is considered "yar." Black Swan is a mystery novel so well constructed, it is worthy of that designation. Tautly paced with an opening that grabs you from the get-go, this latest Sam Acquillo mystery finds Knopf in fine form. Trading his beloved Peconic Bay for the rarified grounds of the quirky and insular Fisher's Island, Sam stumbles on a murder, an aging would be Lolita, software moguls, goons and more. As always, the dialogue is intelligent, sardonic and, in Sam's case, laced with a healthy dose of amused tolerance for the human condition. It's a tale to be embraced with all the exuberance of Eddie Van Halen out for a morning walk.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian Calabro on January 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Knoph needs to write more books about Sam Aquillo. I like the Jackie character but its Sam i read him for. This was probably his weakest Sam Aquillo story. If you've never read any before don't start with this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kupaki123 on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book started out with action immediately. Sam and his girlfriend, Amanda, are caught in a storm while sailing. They get stranded on an island and encounter some questionable characters. Soon bodies start turning up and no one is able to get on or off the island due to the storms. Sam takes it upon himself to find out what is happening on this island.

I found the book entertaining and suspenseful. At times the descriptions became a little too technical but I did not feel it detracted from the overall feel of the book. I am sure some of those descriptions were beneficial to someone who knows more about boats but to people, like myself, who do not know much about boats it was too much to truly comprehend.

The character development was well written. Although I had not read the previous books, I did not find it made it hard to read this book. Knopf did a good job giving background on the characters so new readers would understand them but not so much detail that previous readers would be bored.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sacron on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sam Aquillo is a tough guy. He's intellectual, funny, laid-back and kick-ass simultaneously.
Knopf's writing is clean, smooth,and moves effortlessly. I've read several of his books. They are very good and Black Swan is up to his high standard. He has a wonderful feel for the humor in the human condition. This makes these mysteries more than 'who-done-it?' books. Very enjoyable to read.
Highly recommend you read Black Swan.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Newman VINE VOICE on July 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up based on it having nothing but good reviews on Amazon and was greatly disappointed. Sam Acquillo and girlfriend Amanda Anselma are forced to dock their boat in a "snobbish" island peopled by folks with a lot of "old money." The locals don't like outsiders and the only hotel (the Black Swan) is run by outsiders who seem ready to close its doors from lack of business.

While Sam waits for parts to repair his boat, he and Amanda seemed to be intrigued by the folks at the Black Swan. When one of the guests is found hanged in the shower, everyone assumes suicide by Sam suspects murder. He has to tell everyone not to touch anything to allow a forensics team to properly collect evidence, however with weather conditions it will be a long time before a forensics team will arrive.

Sam then puts his detective hat on and decides to solve what had happened. I had a hard time getting into this book and felt no connection with anyone at the hotel or Sam and Amanda for that matter. Some of the reviewers said that Sam is a wise cracking individual (I was picturing David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter) but I found Sam to be quite dull. As he and Amanda have appeared in other books maybe you need to read those first to get an appreciation for their characters. I know that this book did very little for me. The only thing I found interesting that there could actually be an Island of snobs like the one described in the book.
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