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Elysiana

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Chris Knopf

Smart dialogue and sharp social observations distinguish this stand-alone thriller from Knopf (Short Squeezeand four other Hamptons mysteries). In the summer of 1969, life on the sunny New Jersey resort island of Elysiana simmers as town cops feud with … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Chris Knopf
Publisher: Permanent Press
1 review about Elysiana

Characters that make their own music

  • May 27, 2010
Rating:
+4
The sea has a rhythm and music all its own, and can sound like an orchestra as a storm blows up, the quiet piping of ripples slowly overwhelmed by massive drum-rolls and ominous strings that ride in on the wind.

Elysiana by Chris Knopf reads with that same music and rhythm. The instruments are strangers and friends collected on this tiny island off the coast of South Jersey, and the first sweet notes are sounded by a girl from Chicago, brought in through a drug-filled haze in a stranger's car, seemingly unaware of how she got there or what she left behind.

The author conducts his scene-changes skillfully, bringing each new character to life and including details and hints that make it easy for the reader to recognize who's who. There are cops and lifeguards at odds with the curious rules of jurisdiction. A suicidal stranger drives down the street. Fast cars meet rolling trucks. Drug-lord, thief and erstwhile politician devise their plans. Father brings a boat. And behind it all the surf keeps its steady beat below an old hotel whose eagle-eyed, brain-damaged lookout tries to find his missing self--rather like the girl of that first scene.

Fate, justice and friendship play their parts, and everything comes to a head when a violent storm rushes onto the coast. Lives are saved, and souls and selves defined, in the ensuing chaos, till the waves retreat and one still voice pipes its beautifully timed conclusion, drawing everything together with a word.

I think I'm supposed to disclose at some point that the publishers, Permanent Press, generously sent me Elysiana to review. I might disclose too that I love Chris Knopf's earlier Sam Aquillo, Hampton's Mysteries. This novel would serve as a great introduction to the author for anyone not familiar with Sam Aquillo. And I'm sure it will only delight any readers, like me, who already love his writing.

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