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Amagansett [Hardcover]

Mark Mills
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 2004

‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ meets ‘The Shipping News’ in this enthralling literary crime novel set in post World War II Long Island.

In the small town of Amagansett, perched on Long Island's windswept coast, generations have followed the same calling as their forefathers, fishing the dangerous Atlantic waters. Little has changed in the three centuries since white settlers drove the Montaukett Indians from the land. But for Conrad Labarde, a second-generation Basque immigrant recently returned from the Second World War, and his fellow fisherman Rollo Kemp, this stability is shattered when a beautiful New York socialite turns up dead in their nets.

On the face of it, her death was accidental, but deputy police chief Tom Hollis – an incomer from New York – is convinced the truth lies in the intricate histories and family secrets of Amagansett's inhabitants. Meanwhile the enigmatic Labarde is pursuing his own investigation.

In unravelling the mystery, this haunting and evocative novel captures a community whose way of life is disappearing, its demise hastened by war in Europe and the incursions of wealthy city dwellers in search of a playground.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (7 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007161891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007161898
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,719,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, 'The Whaleboat House', won the 2004 Crime Writer's Association for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, 'The Savage Garden', was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and No 1 bestseller. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.

Product Description

Review

'A striking and assured first thriller…worldly and impeccably researched.' William Boyd

'This is an intriguing, atmospheric, literary crime novel. The uneasy juxtaposition of two communities is brilliantly evoked by Mark Mills.' Daily Mail

'A remarkable first novel. Written with all the wit, lyrical language and slow character development one would search for in the literary department, the book is as rich in time frame and location as any you'd find in the best historical fiction. Mills' tale gently yet persistently pulls readers in.' LA Times

'Beautifully written, character-driven book, with its exotic Long Island sound locale and lyrical descriptions…Mark Mills has written a first novel that reverberates in the mind with the force of a literary epiphany.' Irish Times

'Subtle and stylish. Mills is clever, unravelling the story from several angles.' Observer

'The requisite qualities of a film script – atmospheric details, lucidity and a simple, spare style.' Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, ‘The Whaleboat House’, won the 2004 Crime Writer's Association for Best Novel by a debut author. His third novel, ‘The Savage Garden’ has received stunning reviews in hardback and is a Richard & Judy 2007 Summer Read. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Brilliantly realised thriller set in 1940s Long Island. The clever plot immediately draws you in and the characters make it an enjoyable ride. The background historical and technical research fills out the story, creating real authenticity and credibility without getting in the way of the unfolding drama. Mark Mills' first novel is a massively impressive debut - he's a name to watch and I can't wait for more.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable read 9 Mar 2005
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I wouldnt say that the murder mystery element filled me with a great deal of suspense but it was the books rich history and sense of atmosphere of 1940's Long Island and in particular that of East Hampton originally called Maidstone after the town in Kent, England from where its first settlers hailed.
The story centers primarily upon the 2 main characters being Conrad Labarde, a Basque Fisherman and Deputy Police Chief Tom Hollis. Both for their own reasons have an inextricable need to unravel and solve the mystery of the apparent suicide of society daughter Lillian Wallace.
Extremely well researched, from very early on and most certainly by the end of the book, you will feel a closeness and familiarity to the place, the peoples and its history.
I recommend this read and look forward to more works hopefully soon from Mark Mills!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars! An author to watch. 25 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
Evocative, thrilling, feature rich. The best book that I have read in a long, long time. The novel blends sea-faring, small-town life and the effects of WWII in an unforgetable mix. Incredible to believe that this is a debutant novel.........
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By John M VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This story poignantly invokes the divisions between the priviledged families residing in their mansions and the local fishing communities of the easternmost tip of 1947 Long Island. The main protagonist, Conrad Labarde, has returned from the Italian theatre of WWII, psychologically scarred from his wartime experiences. He embarks upon a relationship with a socialite who is subsequently found dead, apparently drowned at sea, her body being hauled ashore in his own fishing net. This is where the book opens. Labarde then sets out to bring her killers to justice. Positive aspects of the book include the atomsphere and quality of the writing, which is obviously well researched. The central heroic character is both well painted and likeable. However, for me the book has a bit too much technical detail concerning fishing techniques (which was a little lost on me), and although the central character is well painted, the character of the detective slips into cliche, and the villains are almost pantomime. The book is described as a 'mystery', and although this succeeds for the early part, the identity of the killers is really pretty obvious and in fact the author obviously gives up on this and tells us straight out two-thirds of the way through. The author feels the need to give every character an extensive back history as they are introduced, and the detectives love-interest subplot does little to advance the story. In places it has the overtones of the Great Gatsby.
Therefore it is a mixture of the good and the ordinary for me. Still an enjoyable read, but don't expect a cleverly plotted murder mystery. The author's obvious writing skill really conceals what is really quite a weak story line. Personally I prefered 'The Information Officer', but reading the reviews I seem to be in the minority!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amagansett 11 July 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I could not put it down! A truly gripping and beautifully written novel. A wonderful setting, wonderful characters and a wonderful read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a page turner 26 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book centred around a complex character, his strength and determination came through well and he was totally believable. The story line was quite strong but perhaps a little confused in places, I was some way through the book before I realised that this was essentially a very moving love story about a man who would go to the ultimate ends to revenge the tragedy which overtook his life and took away the woman who had transformed his damaged soul.
I would recommend this book, but not for sun lounging on holiday!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and enjoyable 1 April 2008
By Margo
Format:Paperback
As with The Savage Garden Mark Mills puts the location at the very heart of this book. It is evident that a very thorough research went into preparation on the historical location. The sea plays a major part and is the setting for many key events, linking nature and human emotions.

I enjoyed reading the book not only because of the easy writing style that Mark Mills developed but also because he manages to link the lives and secrets of very contrasting individuals that were brought together by a seemingly innocent death of the New York socialite.

The two main characters are Conrad Labarde, the reclusive fisherman, and Tom Hollis, a widowed Deputy Police Chief. The author cleverly explores the past and present of these characters that lead to a mutual understanding when it matters most.

It is not the most on the edge, bite-your-nails murder mystery I have read but it is a stimulating book which is easy and enjoyable to read and I am waiting with anticipation for Mark Mills' next novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever Story 28 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Also published under the title 'The Whaleboat House'

Amagansett is a clever story set in 1947, in a small working class village east of the Hamptons. The white sandy beaches and dunes have been inhabited by rugged fishermen for years and have come to attract the wealthy and cultured city folk during their summer vacation. As travel became easier, a different class of people frequented the area, rich sports fisherman put a strain on locals whose livelihood depended on the ocean's bounty for their survival. Where tension grows, trouble is sure to follow'..

Its central plot: part mystery, part thriller and part historical fiction involves money, elite members of society, conniving bad guys, corrupt law enforcement, a war hero and a sexy cop. It opens when Conrad Labarde and Rollo Kemp, fishermen, snag what appears to be a dead weight. When they pull it out of the water much to their horror they discover the body of Lillian Wallace, a beautiful socialite and daughter of a powerful man.

Deputy Chief Tom Hollis is lead investigator and one of his first priorities is to question family and friends. This turns out to be quite a challenge, the locals are not cooperative and all appear to be hiding something. To make things worse, his superiors pressure him from the other side, they want him to wrap up his investigation without delay and declare the incident an accidental drowning and move on. Something smells fishy'..

The storyline meanders at times, slowly unraveling into a 'who-done-it' coloured with local myths that are expertly told through fisherman folklore and tales of the sea that go back to the times of the Montaukette Indians. A flashback to the war and other nuggets of history and some tender love moments all add colour to the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars First was best me thinks
I vowed never to read another Mills after House of the Hanged was so second-rate. But here I am. And it's mainly because there's so little on the market. Read more
Published 1 month ago by London Matron
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale to keep you gripped to the end
A strong plot that brings together an unusual array of characters through murder, mystery and intrigue. One of Mills` lesser known books but definitely one of his best
Published 6 months ago by Yorkshire Lass
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and atmospheric story.
A brilliant story with a strong sense of place, and in which the character of the fisherman and his involvement with the victim gradually unfolds. Good sub-plot characters too. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Heather Uebel
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing
Setting very persuasive and evocative of a different time and place. The plot is fast moving and has a good twist
Published 8 months ago by Cath Catt
1.0 out of 5 stars ok if you like fishing
I cannot finish this book. It is so full of padding about fishing and the murder part of it seems to take a back seat. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Anne Relf
5.0 out of 5 stars classy & enjoyable
This is the third Mark Mills book I,ve read. His books are insightful and a clever read. Thoroughly recommended and a good summer read.
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. B. Preston
4.0 out of 5 stars The Whaleboat House
clever, complicated complicated plotting along with well drawn and unusual characters make this a compelling story. Brilliant sense of place.
Published 11 months ago by tina price
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read with a cinematic quality
I think this is the best of Mark Mills' novels. If it isn't a film yet, it should be. Well-written, well-plotted with vivid characterisation. A very enjoyable read.
Published 15 months ago by Anne Laird
5.0 out of 5 stars A starter for ten (or 5 in this case)
I came across Mark Mills with The Savage Garden and continued through to the House of the Hanged. I almost bought The House of the Hunted until I realised it was merely a change of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Michael Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric......
This novel makes me want to visit the barren sea side dunes of North Long Island. The characters, the street names, the sound of the wind and the surf all combine to make an... Read more
Published 18 months ago by ebooker
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