By Christopher Bollen
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt
A gripping novel of culture clash and murder: as summer draws to a close, a small Long Island town is gripped by a series of mysterious deaths—and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out
Orient is an isolated town on the north fork of Long Island, its future as a historic village newly threatened by the arrival of wealthy transplants from Manhattan—many of them artists. One late summer morning, the body of a local caretaker is found in the open water; the same day, a monstrous animal corpse is found on the beach, presumed a casualty from a nearby research lab. With rumors flying, eyes turn to Mills Chevern—a tumbleweed orphan newly arrived in town from the west with no ties and a hazy history. As the deaths continue and fear in town escalates, Mills is enlisted by Beth, an Orient native in retreat from Manhattan, to help her uncover the truth. With the clock ticking, Mills and Beth struggle to find answers, faced with a killer they may not be able to outsmart.
Rich with character and incident, yet deeply suspenseful, Orient marks the emergence of a novelist of enormous talent.
Orient is a well written, extremely descriptive literary mystery. It is a bit over loaded with characters, but all of them are well developed. For those not comfortable with sex, there are some parts that I feel could be uncomfortable to read. As well I did not see the need for the details the writer used to describe it. The town of Orient is a small one, but packed with conflict. These squabbles become a main source of tension between the families living in this small community. When a young stranger comes in town with summer resident Paul Benchley things really get tense.
Mills Chevron is a young runaway teen that arrives with Mr Benchely. Town members start to wonder if he is a drug taker or some crazy criminal. He is just different and they are not very welcoming. When a murder occurs, Mills is naturally a suspect. Beth is a home grown artist that has lost her way. Somehow Beth and Mills team up to find answers. The pair start to delve into the secrets and dangers of the town. The Orient Historical Board and US Animal Disease Centre on nearby Plum Island also play a part in the mysterious goings on in town. Will Beth and Mills find answers before it is too late?
The author takes the reader inside the families of Orient pulling back the outer skin and showing us the dirty insides. Family tension, neighborhood in fighting, small community angst, and so much more are all touched on in the intense novel. This is a fairly long and intensely detailed read. It starts out a bit slow and I was not sure how I would get in to the meat of this book. Once it starts though, the intricacies of this well written novel take on a life of its own. The writing style of author Christopher Bollen is interesting and intense. The mystery is interesting and entertaining.
I would recommend Orient to readers that enjoy intense literary mysteries, with minor sex, conflicts and neighborhood in fighting. It is not for anyone looking for a casual, fun and quick read. While the story reads fast paced, with the detail and number of characters, it is a slow read. Entertaining for sure, but with some dark notes and intense anger. This book keeps the reader guessing and wondering just what is going to happen and how it will end. It was a surprising mystery and at the same time a study in personal connections and angst.