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Head Wounds Hardcover – May 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The Permanent Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579621651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579621650
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Ex-boxer and former corporate exec Sam Acquillo, now a hard-drinking carpenter living in a run-down cottage on the shores of the Little Peconic Bay in Southampton, N.Y., becomes the prime suspect in the murder of local builder Robbie Milhouser in Knopf's superb third Hamptons mystery (after Two Time and The Last Refuge). With the evidence against him almost overwhelming, Acquillo enlists a misfit group of supporters to help him uncover the real killer's identity. As he digs into the dead man's troubled past, Acquillo discovers a disturbing link between Milhouser and Acquillo's current girlfriend, Amanda Battiston. Knopf excels in describing the rustic underpinnings of Long Island's east end, especially its vast array of eccentric characters. Brisk pacing and sharp dialogue carry the reader along, but it's the endearing and deeply flawed Acquillo that's the heart and soul of this exceptional series. How can you go wrong with a philosophizing hero who drinks Absolut, reads Kant, drives a '67 Grand Prix and has a dog named Eddie Van Halen? (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sam Acquillo—ex-boxer, ex-husband, and now an Absolut-drinking construction worker on the east end of the Hamptons—shouldn’t be mixing it up with the likes of Robbie Milhouser, a local bully who flirts a bit too much with Sam’s flame, Amanda Anselma. After all, his doctors have told him that another head wound is the last thing he needs. Just as a brawl seems to be in the offing, Robbie up and dies, and Sam seems to be holding the smoking gun—that is, in this case, a staple gun that easily traces back to him. Sam, who also has some amateur sleuthing on his résumé (The Last Refuge, 2005),  puts his sharp mind and caustic wit to use in tracking back how the unfortunate Robbie met his demise. The Hamptons setting provides much of the appeal here, but it’s not the Polo-playing side of the island we see but, rather, the seamier underside (yes, even the Hamptons have an underside). Slow-starting Sam makes the perfect antihero for our guided tour of the wrong side of the tracks. Another satisfying entry in an endearing series. --Mary Frances Wilkens

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

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See all 8 customer reviews
I smile when Chris Knopf rolls out his Sam Acquillo voice.
Anastasia Hobbet
Apparently so but the twists and turns make fascinating reading, especially when accompanied by Chris Knopf's painterly descriptions, and fully imagined characters.
Gail Cooke
So, drink more vodka, read Kant, and run it all by the dog, named Eddie Van Halen.
James Rounds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Pull up an easy chair, light the lamp, and prepare to enter the world of Sam Acquillo. If you're a first time reader of this series, you'll soon discover it's a very strange world, which befits Sam as he's a unique guy.

A former successful white collar worker and boxer, Sam is now a carpenter keeping vodka in his glass by working on pricey houses which are dotting the shoreline of Jacob's Neck and Oak Point. He lives in a cottage on the waterfront, often hangs out in Southhampton Village, and his best pal is his dog, Eddie Van Halen. His marraige ended in an acrimonious divorce, he and his daughter are all but estranged., and he's presently involved in an off again - on again romance with the beauteous Amanda who inherited a great deal of the land on which said expensive homes are being built.

Sound as if Sam's in a downward spiral? Apparently so but the twists and turns make fascinating reading, especially when accompanied by Chris Knopf's painterly descriptions, and fully imagined characters. Sam is a puzzling protagonist, an affecting fellow for whom we keep rooting.

First off, we wonder how he ever came to this - chief suspect in a murder case. Sam's super intelligent, has an MIT degree, uses four or five syllable words properly, freely, and reads Kant. But, here he is with Robbie Milhouser quite dead after several head blows from Sam's heavy construction stapler. Plus, a few folks witnessed a recent brawl between the two men.

The rather complex plot involves finding out who the real killer is, which is done primarily by following Sam's thought processes. And, that is sometimes perplexing, often amusing, and always compelling. In the quest to vindicate Sam there is, of course, a little help from his friends.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Rounds on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The self-help website "How Stuff Works" exists to explain the dynamics of physical systems to the non-engineers among us. It's mirror-image Evil Twin website, "How Stuff Breaks Down", could be said to be at the epicenter of every one of Chris Knopf's Hampton Murder mysteries, including the sublime new "HEAD WOUNDS". This time out Sam's own head is on the block, and the bizarre rabbit warren of clues and evidence interspersed with juicy (juiced?) philosophizing makes for a great read, especially if you're a fan of Robert B. Parker and Lee Child.

Before the deluge, Sam Acquillo was a highly-paid systems analyst for a petrochemical company, the guy you call in an emergency to figure out what's preventing a billion-dollar system from doing what it's supposed to do. High stakes, high stress, high pay, all of it. Suffice it to say, he flames out dramatically, in high style. Imagine yourself with marriage and job on the rocks, a leftover company credit card and car, limitless time and vodka on your hands. Ah, the possibilities. Understand, this is just the background reel, separate from the actual plot of "HEAD WOUNDS", though it informs the main character's motivations in important ways. This is fun stuff, folks.

Forget everything you know and believe in, is the order of the day. The center cannot hold, because the wheel's out of round. So, drink more vodka, read Kant, and run it all by the dog, named Eddie Van Halen. There's not much holding Sam Acquillo together these days:

"I can't do it again", I said finally to Eddie. "For any reason."
I didn't like to think of myself as a middle-aged guy who sat drinking alone in the dark, talking to his dog about his fears and uncertainties.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anastasia Hobbet on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I smile when Chris Knopf rolls out his Sam Acquillo voice. It's wry and incisive like I can only dream of being. Sam isn't what you'd call a sober guy, but he's not sloppy: his wit gets dryer the less dry he is. Not a role model, but I don't need a role model. I just want to sit with Sam out on his porch and watch the waves -- and if some bad guys happen along, I'm on Sam's side.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thrills N. Kills on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Really enjoyed this one - the main selling point is Knopf's protagonist Sam Acquillo, who plays hard-boiled without being a ripoff of other hard-boiled mystery characters. He's an ex-boxer who after becoming the prime suspect in a murder, rounds up his own posse to solve the crime. Knopf has a real knack for detailing a world that many of us wouldn't know much about - the Hamptons, which apparently are kind of nasty and bizarre. Whipcrack dialogue and pacing kept my pages turning, and I've already ordered two other Knopf titles to get more. It reminded me a bit of a new Adam Gittlin book called The Deal that had a similar protagonist, albeit in a completely different setting.
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