Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
A small town. A stranger. Mystery, murders and suspense. That’s the essence of Christopher Bollen’s new book, Orient. I was sent an ARC with a completely different cover and black-edged pages – it really stood out on my bookshelf.
Here’s the blurb:
At the eastern edge of Long Island, far from the hustle of New York City, stands Orient, a village that has been home to a few families for hundreds of years and is now – reluctantly – opening up to wealthy weekenders and artists from the city. On the last day of summer, a young man with a hazy past appears, and not long after comes a series of events that shatters the peace in this isolated community. A strange, twisted creature washes ashore on the Sound and then a human corpse is found floating in the water. A woman dies in bizarre circumstances and a house fire erupts out of nowhere. Fear and suspicion mount until everyone’s secrets threaten to be exposed. But who is Mills Chevern? What is his real name and why is he here? As all eyes shift towards the orphan drifter, Mills elicits the support of Beth Shepherd, an Orient native who is hiding a secret of her own.
Orient is a languid, slow-building, character-driven read. Just as Mills struggles for a sense of belonging, so to does the reader. The mystery is cleverly drawn out, putting forward a number of suspects, and revealing a small, insular town locked in a battle of wills. The great American dream means different things to different parts of the community; those with generational ownership come up hard against the new residents, who see a different future for the town. As winter closes in on Orient, so does the suspense, creating an atmosphere of claustrophobia, unrest and suspicion.
Intense, complex and provocative, Orient wraps up with an unexpected, but clever ending. One for fans of Lionel Shriver, Patricia Highsmith and AM Homes.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My ARC was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.