Monica's Reviews > Amagansett

Amagansett by Mark Mills
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Jul 19, 12

bookshelves: crime-and-or-evil
Read in July, 2012

Long Island in 1947 was home to two separate communities - the locals, both descendants of early English settlers and ethnic immigrants, mostly fishermen and shopkeepers - and the summer people, wealthy New Yorkers who built large vacation homes and employed, but didn't mix with the locals.

Conrad Labarde, a Basque fisherman and WWII hero, and his partner Rollo, pull in their net to find the body of a young woman, drowned, apparently accidentally. She is the daughter of one of the wealthy summer families. And she and Conrad had been secret lovers for some months. He knew she was too good a swimmer to risk a dangerous tide, and she was wearing her earrings, which she never did when she went swimming. The coroner says accidental death, but Conrad is not convinced. Neither is Tom Hollis, the deputy chief of police.

Conrad begins to look for evidence to bear out his suspicions and leads Hollis to keep looking into the death. It's a good detective story, but much more. It's a wonderfully drawn portrait of a lost society - the Long Island fishing community - and a sharp study of post WWII caste and class in America. The characters are really well developed - Conrad and Hollis especially - but the dead woman and her family, the other fishermen and Abel the photographer as well. We learn about Conrad's childhood in France and his emigration to the US and his war experiences. We learn why and how Hollis left the NYPD and how his marriage broke up. There are two love stories and some political intrigue. It's richly satisfying and beautifully written.

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