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VINE VOICEon July 7, 2006
In the first few pages of his second appearance (after "The Last Refuge"), Hamptons native and recent returnee Sam Acquillo nearly gets blown up while sipping Absolut on the deck of a dockside restaurant in East Hampton.

Sam's skills and powers of observation as an ex-boxer and engineer save him and his lawyer friend Jackie from the fate of the other patrons when a car bomb kills its target and five others. Alerted by the color of the roiling fire inside the car after the initial blast, he vaults the deck railing and manhandles Jackie to relative safety before a second blast - a lot stronger than the fire explosion Sam expected - all but vaporizes the fellow drinkers he'd been casually denigrating just moments before.

Sam, a bit of a brooder and misanthrope, doesn't like too many people but he's loyal to the few he calls friends. He's been back in the Hamptons for five years, licking his wounds and drinking to the sunsets over Little Peconic Bay behind the cottage his mean-drunk father built when Sam was a kid.

A couple months after the blast, with Jackie still undergoing surgeries to repair her face and Sam's hearing slowly returning, his cop friend Joe Sullivan asks Sam to help out in the stalled investigation. The dead guy was an investment analyst with a roster of fancy clients and Joe thinks Sam, with his corporate background and MIT education, might have a better idea what questions to ask than the local cops.

From the wealthy agoraphobic wife and her controlling lawyer to the unhappy mob-connected client and the flamboyant artist brother, Sam follows a few false leads and attracts a fair amount of violence before wisecracking his way to a clever conclusion.

The plotting and the dry, witty repartee evoke shades of Raymond Chandler while the glitz and grit of the Hamptons new and old provide a salty, vivid setting and Sam Acquillo is a likable fellow in his deadpan way. A must read for fans of noir and good writing.

--Portsmouth Herald
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on January 10, 2013
"Two Time" is the second in Knopf's 5 book series about Sam Acquillo, a former head of research (Technical Support and Services) at a major industrial company, former prize fighter, former engineering student, former husband. So what is he now? Well, he's not a cop, nor a PI but he winds up investigating major crimes. And it is this stretch that finally had he coming away from book 2 a good bit more critical than I had been after book one. And I started to get tired of all the clever repartee - it seems the author really likes clever repartee since a number of characters use it, correction - overuse it. And let's get real - Sam is just an engineer, a techie, and we all know that engineers don't speak like grad school professors of Comparative English Literature. But Sam does. Most of this was a carbon copy of the first book, same characters, same dialog, same setting, same tones, same,same, same. I found myself wishing it would just end. Never a good sign. One book was fine, I think I rated "The Last Refuge" at least a 4.0 This one starts with an exploding car that kills a number of people, almost including Sam. And it's another financial scam theme. A 3.0 is probably generous. I am on the fence about reading book three, but if I do it won't be for quite a while.
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on April 6, 2009
Two Time starts off with a bang as Sam and Jackie are injured in when a car bomb outside the restaurant in which they'd met explodes. Cop Joe Sullivan asks Sam to talk to the widow of the car bomb victim. Reluctantly spurred on by his guilt over Jackie's injuries, Sam becomes embroiled in the victim's shady dealings in his financial consulting business, a performance-artist brother, an odd widow, and angry clients. In The Last Refuge, Sam starts out as completely withdrawn from the world and gradually begins to make connections with people. I was pleased to see that there is no regressing in Two Time (a pet peeve with me in series fiction is inconsistent character development), but that Sam is still very much a work in progress. He uses his engineering background in a methodical yet insightful way, approaching the murder as a problem to solve. This makes for a fascinating mystery novel, and Sam is an irresistible protagonist. Knopf's caustic wit is a fine counterpoint to the hardboiled action.
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on October 12, 2011
I heard about the book by word of mouth. I like it so much I wanted to come back and do a review. The telling of the story is full of detail and in hind sight gives some clues as to the outcome but you are never quite sure until the end, which is revealed very efficiently and interestingly. I have already ordered my second Knopf book and I expect good things from that one.
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on June 27, 2013
This is my third Sam Aquillo book and I'm just as impressed by the author's command of the language as I was with the first two. The story is tight, and one might say a tad similar to the two previous books, but the writing takes command of the story, leaving the plot a distant second.

It loses a star because an important plot device is just plain wrong. C-4 cannot be set off to explode by fire. It must be ignited by an electrical charge. C-4 is very stable, in fact we used to burn it to cook our Cs in Vietnam because it burns with intensity but the fire stays isolated to the compound itself and puts itself out when the compound dissipates. Surprised this got past the editors.

I've got the remaining two books in this series on audio and look forward to listening to them.
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on September 10, 2007
Ex-boxer, retired engineer, Sam Aquillo is determined to do nothing more than work on a house addition and watch the sunsets outside of his Long Island home. However, when he meets a friend for a drink, a car bomb explodes, killing the driver, a wealthy financial consultant, and several people sitting outside the bar. When the police become mired in dead ends and misleading clues, Sam is persuaded to make his own inquiries into the murder, both for his friend's sake, who was wounded by the exploding glass, and for the widow of the victim, an agoraphobe. As with most good mysteries, the answers are to be found in the strange life of the bomb's primary target, the well-to-do and successful consultant.

The scenes are moody, the characters quirky, and Sam Aquillo is just as world-weary a hero as the characters in a Dashiell Hammett novel. In fact, there are several references to Hammett in Two Time, which suggests Aquillo's first name isn't accidental. The plot of this book, however, is better than any of Hammett's, and I recommend this novel as more of a satisfying literary mystery than a cosy.
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VINE VOICEon December 4, 2007
TWO TIME (Traditional Mystery/Amateur Sleuth-Sam Acquillo-Long Island, NY-Cont) - G+
Knopf, Chris - 2nd in series
The Permanent Press, 2007, US Hardcover - ISBN: 1579621295
First Sentence: Sometimes at sunset over the East End of Long Island God plays artist, spraying pinky red paint all over the sky.

Sam Acquillo is a retired engineer and ex-boxer living in East Hampton, Long Island. While at a restaurant, Sam sees a man, financial consultant, get into his car, answer his cell phone and be firebomed to the point of evaporation and severely injuring Sam's lady friend. Sam, informally assisting his friend and cop, Joe Sullivan, finds the victim's agoraphobic widow, obstructive attorney, strange artist brother and mother who has been virtually abandoned in a senior's home. But Sam also find a possible relationship with his neighbor, Amanda.

What makes this book different from others is the perspective of an engineer's approach to solving a murder, as well as the protagonist living in the Hamptons, but not being among the moneyed set. Sam is an interesting character who has grown since the first book. Knopf knows how to create diverse characters and has a great ear for dialogue. I enjoyed the setting but found it read a bit like MapQuest at times with all the exact directions. Still, Knopf is an interesting writer and I'm definitely looking forward to his third book.
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