Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BLACK SWAN by Chris Knopf

Black Swan is the fifth of author Chris Knopf’s Sam Acquillo Hamptons mystery series and the first where the action doesn’t actually take place in the Hamptons. As a stand-alone novel it’s a character-driven mystery filled with excitement, sailing, scenery and intrigue, and a great introduction to a really great character and series. Sam is piloting his friend Burton Lewis’s new sailboat home from Maine and takes refuge from a dramatic storm on Fishers Island, NY—a private island whose inhabitants have no great love of intruders. Gale force winds and waves the size of houses are so convincingly portrayed I feel I might really have been on such a boat; I haven’t and never will, since the ocean terrifies me, but the author brings the drama powerfully to life with storytelling as filled with poetry as with excitement. Amanda, a woman Sam has come to love in previous books, and the wonderful Eddie (his dog) share the adventure and the trip, while off-boat are “outsiders” Anika and Axel Fey who, together with their father, hope to make a go of the Black Swan hotel and restaurant despite local disapproval.

The author peoples Fishers Island with well-defined three-dimensional characters, just as surely as he’s peopled the Hamptons in previous volumes. Police procedure is simple, straightforward and dangerous. Death, murder and relationships are closely observed. Landscape and weather form a backdrop as filled with character as the story itself, and the mystery is nicely low-key, perfectly timed and tuned to the parallel mysteries of Sam’s own feelings for his future and past.

Describing computer programs, ship’s steering systems, people, weather and place all with the same sure confidence, Chris Knopf has written another masterful mystery with characters who continue to learn and grow, adding breadth to depth and ever moving forwards to the promise of more. There’s no need to read the other books before reading this one, but if you haven’t you’ll find it hard to resist going out to look for them. Sam Acquillo is a complex wounded soul on a journey that’s well worth following; knocked down by life’s storms, he stands up and finds himself drawn into other people’s fights, thereby redeeming his own.

Disclosure: I was sent a bound galley of Black Swan from the publisher, the Permanent Press, in exchange for an honest review.
—Sheila Deeth

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-57962-216-9

No comments:

Post a Comment