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)
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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