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by Daniel Judson
Minotaur Books, October 2009
293 pages
ISBN: 0312383576

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lately, crime fiction novelists have been finding the Hamptons the ideal setting for their stories, but not the Hamptons of the rich and famous. Instead, these authors have been mining the blue-collar or criminal aspects of Long Island's East End.

Daniel Judson takes that even farther, in a gritty Hamptons seemingly filled with hired killers, crooked cops and a mansion that's the setting for a Halloween weekend orgy. Into all this he places the (mostly) innocent Cal Rakowski, a 22-year-old mechanic whose life revolves around work and weekend bar-hopping, nothing more dangerous. But then Cal takes in his former restaurant boss, a 43-year-old pregnant woman hiding from her abusive husband, Ronnie Pamona, who will do anything to get his wife back. And he also finds out that his best friend Lebell his only friend since Cal's father and brother died is a former criminal, also on the run from a ruthless killer.

All the action takes place on a Halloween weekend during which a meek, quiet Cal is transformed as he tries to protect the people he cares about. Both Cal's brother and father were small-time criminals, but Cal has kept himself clean and under the radar, working off-the-books at a Bridgehampton mechanic's shop and living above the shop. His natural distrust of police and constant wariness will serve him well later.

Throughout the book, we also get glimpses of Evangeline Amendora, the killer after Lebell, a beautiful woman who is haunted by her past. Although a cold, twisted criminal, we see her damaged core, and you can't help but feel some sympathy. However, we also know there will come a time when she and Cal will meet up. Can both survive the encounter?

Judson keeps the tension taut throughout the book, and writes so atmospherically that you almost don't recognize his Hamptons it's the Hamptons hidden in the shadows, its streets and railroad stations deserted in the late night. In this alternate Hamptons, bad things will happen. But by that point, Judson will have hooked you and you won't want to put the book down.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, April 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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