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The Last Refuge: Sam Acquillo Mystery Series, Book 1

(Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  436 ratings  ·  61 reviews

Available in Canada for the first time – a compelling debut from a fresh new voice in crime fiction.

Sam Acquillo’s at the end of the line. A middle-aged corporate dropout living in his dead parents’ ramshackle cottage in the Hamptons, Sam has abandoned his friends, family and a big-time career to sit on his porch, drink vodka and stare at the Little Peconic Bay. But when t

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Published February 28th 2011 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published June 30th 2005)
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  436 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Richard Derus
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This almost-four-star review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Better copyediting! Look at the blurb above! Yeesh.
For the most part I really enjoyed this debut book. The plotting was fairly well done, the setting and sense of place were quite good, and the main character was intriguing enough. I did have a few problems with the pacing and while the main character's backstory was interesting I felt it could have been condensed down just a bit. All in all though a good read and I want to continue on with the series.
Sheila Myers
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
An good little mystery that could've been either shorter or more focused on the main plot. While the main character's back-story is interesting, the author went about presenting it in such a way as to interrupt the flow of the story. It seems to have been thrown in at random and at points at which the memories of the past had nothing to do with what was happening around the character. When the interruptions add nothing to the plot of the mystery or the interactions among the characters, there is ...more
I really like this writer's plots, pacing, characters and setting descriptions, but, oh, the copyediting in this, his first, novel! What a mess. Hayden for Haydn, then for than, Cotswold's for Cotswolds, Maxwell Parrish for Maxfield Parrish, it's for its ... And yet the the writing in general is so literary, I can't help thinking the author was not the culprit but either someone who thought they were helping or over-reliance on a crazed spellcheck program. The previous reader of my library copy ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Refuge- the first in Chris Knopf's Sam Acquillo - Hamptons mysteries was terrific. It had all the things I like-familiar Hamptons location,an antisocial, quirky flawed character (ala another fav-Randy Wayne White)/ ex-boxer/engineer /solver of mysteries . More quirky characters,an intelligent well thought out plot-and a little street justice for the bad guys (ala Lee Child}. Can't wait to read the second one-Two Time.Fun read and you have to love the descriptions of Little Peconic Bay.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
How could I resist a book set in the Hamptons, where I spent a lot of summers in my youth? Not the Hamptons you read about and see on TV, but the working class communities that were still there the last time I looked, which was several years ago. Knopf does a great job of writing a noir mystery set in an unlikely setting for such an endeavor. And his hero is an engineer--I may have to recommend this book to my father-in-law, a retired chemical engineer.
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good read about a corporate big shot turned lazy bum who lives in a decrepit house in the Hamptons, of eastern Long Island. One day his next door neighbor is found dead in her bath tub. Authorities rule it an accidental death. But her neighbor, the aforementioned bum, is suspicious. He tries to sniff out the truth of the matter and we meet a good size number of quirky characters in his quest. It's a quick and fun read.
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
SETTING: Southampton, NY
SERIES: #1 of 4
RATING: 4.25

An excellent debut introduces 52-year-old ex-engineer Sam Acquillo. When he finds his neighbor dead, he takes it upon himself to settle her estate and address the questions that come up. Acquillo is an interesting character, a loner but loyal to his friends, and aided by a wonderful dog, Eddie. Setting is extremely well done. Looks like this series has some good bones.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dying2read, revue
Solid, straight-forward mystery, no tricks.

I can picture the scenery; in fact that photograph of the house on the cover MUST be Sam's.

His berserker behavior when settling his divorce was a riot. Warning: Disillusioned couples...nail everything down!!!

Sam is a perfect drop-out, BUT Eddie, Sam's dog, steals the show.
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a delightful find. I had never read any of Knopf's books. I loved this one and now I have a whole new author. A new and different kind of protagonist in a story artfully told. Can't wait to read more,
Sam Acquillo is a fifty something engineer who is living, more or less, as a recluse in the cottage that belonged to his parents. He has his dog Eddie with him and the two of them seem to be having their lives without the aid of any human contact. That is with the exception of the elderly lady who lives next door. He does odd jobs for her from time to time because his father took care of her also.

This was his life for about four years until one day as he was out walking he noticed a terrible sme
Emily Higgins
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Sam Acquillo quit his job a few years ago. His wife divorced him and Sam and his daughter have not spoken for years. He is trying to drink himself into oblivion. Then his elderly next door neighbor is found dead. Something about the circumstances of her death keep nagging at Sam. For the first time in years, Sam finds himself caring about something.
Mike Harper
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a better than average mystery. It was well written (but full of proofreading errors), with interesting characters and an involved, if somewhat unlikely, plot. The main character's situation was very much in flux as the mystery was resolved, leading me to hope there will be a sequel.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a tedious read, although I finished the book because I was reading it for a mystery book group at my public library. I found it difficult to connect with the characters or the setting and I really didn't care about the "mystery" or whether it was solved. The best thing I can say is that it was well written.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A not bad at all read. The plot is a corporate crime vs. good neighbor story, with a dash of mob-like intrigue thrown in for good measure, set in Southampton, it is a battle between along time cottage neighborhood and the forces of greed.
Gabriela Querol
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me ha gustado la historia, cosas que ocurren en poblaciones pequeñas, las relaciones entre la gente, ver historias que se entrelazan. Se lee rápido y a la vez se aprende de los diferentes personajes.
Jen Gomm
Slow starter but an excellent ending.
Kat Walter
Was hoping I’d found another author to follow, but I’m just not a fan of this style. Elmore Leonard readers would like this novel.
Chris Raimo
I have mixed feelings about this one - none of which are grand and none of which are horrible.

The Good: Sam IS an interesting character despite what some people might say because he is conflicted. And conflict makes me read for a resolution.

The Bad: I can't be sure but I think there might have been a better way to present the conflicted Sam. More an issue of how the backstory was woven - a bit choppy, thus distracting. But I like his tormented soul an so I bore down and focused through it to l
I had seen this series referenced in reviews of Jon Loomis' series set in Provincetown, featuring detective Frank Coffin; although there are similarities, Acquillo's story is more gritty than Coffin's. I don't care for plot rehashes, so I'll say that Acquillo suspects a neighbor's death couldn't have been accidental (surprise: it wasn't!), so manages to get himself appointed administrator of her estate to go nosing into the mystery of the title of her property. Along the way, we get the story of ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Chris Knopf is a marvelous, intelligent writer, especially for a first time novelist. His writing is strong and sure, and he has a wonderful way of setting the scene, and creating mood. I also appreciate his ability to explain fairly complicated concepts in a way that is both instructive and interesting (at least to me.)

The plot of the story is interesting, and not frustratingly or wildly contrived. The crimes and their commission, as well as the actions taken by the main character, Sam
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Refuge is the first of a series of mysteries about Sam Acquillo by Chris Knopf. The novels are published by a small publisher, the Permanent Press, but the author has recently been signed by St. Martin's to do a spin-off series. It's neat to know that publishing small really can lead to publishing large, but I suspect it only works if you're a good writer. Chris Knopf is clearly that.

Sam Acquillo's not a particularly nice guy for a hero, not safe, not easygoing. But he already seems ver
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, but I could swear I've read this book before. Plot points are familiar. Did I start and not finish?

The plot itself is similar to another book I read recently, There Was an Old Woman, by Hallie Ephron--old ladies in danger in a neglected neighborhood of New York. In Ephron's book, it's in the Bronx, a fictional neighborhood where the East River meets the Long Island Sound where a natural wetland with marsh and lagoons survives today In The Last Refuge, written years before Ephron's, it's a
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Refuge (2005) introduces Sam Acquillo, a 50-something, retired engineer, in Southampton, Long Island, New York. After Sam quits his job, his wife divorced him, his daughter stopped speaking to him, and he retreated to his parents’ old cottage on Little Peconic Bay, content to brood and drink vodka on the porch with Eddie, his canine companion. One day he realizes that his unpleasant elderly neighbor, Regina Broadhurst, hasn’t bothered him for several days. A bad smell leads Sam to her d ...more
THE LAST REFUGE (Amateur Sleuth-New York-Cont) – VG
Knopf, Chris – 1st book
The Permanent Press, 2005- US Hardcover – ISBN: 157962118X
*** Sam Acquillo is unemployed; living on what money is left from his invention after his divorce, drinks too much and lives in a ramshackle cottage in Southampton, Long Island. He has also inherited the care of his elderly neighbor, Regina Broadhurst, and her house from his father. When Sam finds Regina dead in her bathtub he doesn’t believe it’s an accident and be
Iowa City Public Library
The Last Refuge by Chris Knopf should be part of your vacation reading this summer — especially if you’re off to the Hamptons. Sam Acquillo mostly just sits, drinking and reading, in his late parents’ dilapidated house in Southampton, Long Island. He gets out occassionally to hit balls for his dog and does odd jobs for his ungrateful neighbor Regina. A former corporate design engineer, who left that world (which included his high society wife) when he was asked to groom his division for a take o ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Last Refuge, by Chris Knopf, A. Narrated by Stefan Rodnicki, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from

Sam Acquillo is burned out. He has moved into the house he inherited from his parents and has no plans to pursue anything in the future. He was a boxer, and an engineer high in his corporation. He gave it all up. Then his next-door extremely obnoxious neighbor, an old lady, ends up dead floating in her bathtub and he finds the body. The police want to write it off as acciden
Sep 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can sum my opinion of this book up fairly quickly and easily. Loads of potential, with some serious holes.

Now to explain that. The book was intriguing. The plot was sound, but a little transparent. The dialog was excellent. The filler was... filler. Bad, long, drawn out, makes you want to skip a few pages filler. It actually puzzled me and made me put the book down several times and just walk away. How could somebody who writes such good dialog, make the back story and some of the side informa
Feb 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sam Acquillo lives in Southhampton, the part the summer people never see. He sits on his porch, watching the Peconic River, drinking himself to death. He punched out a lawyer at his previous job as an industrial engineer and destroyed his house while his wife and he were divorcing. Court-mandated psychological counseling did not help too much and his daughter lives in Manhattan and no longer speaks to him. He doesn't want to feel anything, anymore. Feelings get you into trouble. Sam keeps an eye ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read one of Chris Knopf's short stories (it was great), and I had heard about the Sam Acquillo series and wanted to give it a try. I really prefer to start a series at the beginning... and I am glad I did.

I don't read a lot of books that I would describe as very masculine and noir-- the brooding loner, alcoholic narrator prone to getting into fights-- and at first I thought this might not be the book for me. I usually prefer a different kind of mystery. But I have to say, this TOTALLY suc
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Other books in the series

Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery (7 books)
  • Two Time
  • Head Wounds
  • Hard Stop
  • Black Swan
  • Cop Job (Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery, #6)
  • Back Lash