Nelson DeMille just cemented his place on my favorite authors list, definitely top 10 and possibly top 5. I read 11 books of his coming into this one.Nelson DeMille just cemented his place on my favorite authors list, definitely top 10 and possibly top 5. I read 11 books of his coming into this one. With the exception of two of his earlier works, everything I've read from him has been excellent to super. His thrillers since 1984 (The Talbot Odyssey) are particularly excellent. In fact, if I were to rank the 20 best thrillers I've read from any author ever, I could probably easy put 6 of DeMille's books on the list.
I particularly enjoy the John Corey series, of which I've read the first three books thus far (Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Night Fall). It's not just that they are thrilling and incredibly paced. It also involves the first-person narrative style that is very liberally peppered with a sarcastic wit that I've never heard as well from any author. Keep in mind that I love funny fiction. I've read Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, Christopher Moore, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurk Vonnegut, David Wong and others...but none of them get the dry sarcasm quite like DeMille when he takes this approach. It's worth noting that this style began in this particular 1990 book.
The seasoned DeMille fan who reads The Gold Coast for the first time might need a disclaimer. This is not a thriller. Well, it is, but not in the traditional sense. It is more of a soap opera. It's an expose on the life of early '90s aristocrats on Long Island, and about one such family - The Sutters - who are altered for good when a famous mafia crime boss, Frank Bellarosa, moves in to the house next door, along with his wife and small platoon of security. John Sutter is, by the standards of his western Long Island community, barely accepted. He is a very successful Wall Street lawyer of his own making, but able to attend the exclusive country clubs and schmooze with the upper class locals only because of his wife, an heiress to one of the big families among the rich - the Stanhopes. DeMille gives the reader a great look at the social rituals and the speech that is said versus what is meant.
At the same time, it is still a type of thriller. It's not a pot boiler, but a true slow cooker. When you cook a meal for 8 hours, it's still cold after 3 or 4, but then it gets hot and super hot before it's done. That's The Gold Coast in a sense. About a third of the way through, you'll be convinced it's no more than a soap opera, one that opens as virtually an homage to The Great Gatsby (another Long Island novel) where the first person narrator views his mysterious neighbor, one that has just moved in at the start of this book. The mafia boss forces a friendship on John Sutter and this leads to inevitable consequences on a grand scale. By the climax, it is very tense and riveting.
One of my favorite aspects of this was witnessing the transformation of John Sutter, inspired by the mafia don. The way he sets about burning nearly all of his bridges is simultaneously hilarious and tragic. That describes many of the characters in The Gold Coast. Frank is simultaneously funny, inspiring (hey, he IS good at what he does), but also scary and very revolting. John's wife Susan is a vivid character, and I agree with DeMille's own description in the introduction to the 2008 edition: "Every man's dream, and every man's nightmare, a reward who is worth the cost of her high maintenance."
This is good literature with great writing, wonderful characters, an enchanting setting, discussion-worthy themes, and a solid story. I love how DeMille's trademark wit never wavers. Every paragraph has a funny line. If you plan on reading this and can even stand audiobooks, please do yourself a favor and check out the unabridged performance as narrated by Christian Rummel, who flat out nails the tone of the book. A perfect performance of an amazing novel!...more
I've now seen the movie of this once, and read the book twice. I've even read books that approach the same issues (most notably Elizabeth Moon's "TheI've now seen the movie of this once, and read the book twice. I've even read books that approach the same issues (most notably Elizabeth Moon's "The Speed of Dark"). This remains a beautiful, sad and haunting story. It reminds the reader of how a person is not defined by their intelligence. It is fun, but not always comfortable, watching Charly on his intellectual journeys, and his struggles to match emotional growth to intellectual growth. There are the memories of his family who wasn't prepared to deal with his retardation, and his co-workers who play jokes on him. Thought provoking, but a very simple narrative. Just as good the second time around as the first!...more