When the publisher sent me Vanished in the Dunes: A Hamptons Mystery by Allan Retzky, my first thought was that it might make a good vacation read. I love taking a suspenseful mystery that’s not too long on vacation – and who doesn’t like to read about a place like the Hamptons? What’s even better is that one lucky reader is going to win an advance readers copy (ARC) of this beach whodunit!
Amos Posner designed and built a beautiful home in Amagansett on Long Island’s east end for him and his wife, Sara, to enjoy, although they also owned an apartment in Manhattan. They lived the rarified good life. He worked for an international trading company and she was a successful attorney. Then one day things began to go wrong.
Amos got scapegoated in a business deal that drew federal attention, and found himself fired on the spot even though he had not been the one making the shady decisions that landed his company in hot water. Ever since, he’s been not only unemployed and basically blackballed in his field but he’s been constantly waiting for the feds to come knocking at his door and cart him off to jail. His over-the-top stress levels have played havoc with his ability to just function and consequently on his relationship with his wife.
He’s begun spending almost all of his time at their house in the Hamptons, with brief weekends in Manhattan. He’s afraid his marriage is going down the drain but he can’t rally enough energy to do much about it.
“[Sara] She stood across from him in the living room[,] her legs straddling the small weekend bag stuffed with the laptop and the usual assortment of work files she always brought with her. ‘I need to know if you’re seeing someone else. Someone local. Is that why you always want to be here? Do you want someone younger? Someone available on a moment’s notice?’
‘There’s no one else. I swear.’
She started to walk down the steps, then stopped halfway down, turned, and faced him. ‘I just don’t know if I can believe you.’”
On the Hamptons Jitney ride back to the island, an alluring woman named Heidi asks him how to get to the beach. Although he’s polite when he gives her directions and refuses to give her a ride, he doesn’t think too much more about it.
Later while he’s eating lunch at a local shop patio, Heidi walks up and starts talking to him. One thing leads to another and soon he’s reluctantly showing her his home while they drink a glass of wine. All perfectly innocent, at least on his part. She insists on staying there while he runs a quick errand but, when he returns, he finds her dead on the floor after what appears to be a fall down the stairs.
“His watch says almost forty minutes have passed since he left. Dammit. What if Sara had called while he was out?…The door opens about three-quarters of the way and then stops. Something blocks further effort. Something heavy, but there’s still enough room for him to easily enter…She lays there without moving. Her eyes closed. He calls to her, but his voice is no more than an echo. At first he thinks she’s playing some game with him, some final attempt at seduction…But then he sees blood seeping from the back of her head.”
It would be an understatement to say that he panics. He’s already in a world of trouble with the feds and now there’s a dead woman in his house. He’s sure the police will never believe it was an accident and will put him under the jail, so he buries her in the woods in the nearby town of Montauk. Then he desperately tries to cover any trace that she’s been to his home.
“At one point, however, some four weeks after the accident, for that is what he had come to call Heidi’s death in his own mind, without waver or compromise, he almost believes that there will be no investigation. He has mentally willed himself into anonymity with the same absurdity that one buys a lottery ticket and believes, during the trip home[,] that they will be the big winner.”
And that is when things begin to go even more horribly wrong. Was it really an accident or did someone murder her? If Amos has just covered up a murder, what will become of him? Why did Heidi care that he was Jewish? Has he left traces of Heidi’s death that the police will find? Will he end up on trial for murder?
Amos is a character a lot of people can relate to, if not as corporate scapegoats then definitely as someone who’s been successful but now finds himself older and unemployed, and floundering in one hell of a nasty economy. His wife is less than sympathetic and his marriage really is on the rocks. He’s an easy target for Heidi, a woman who I’m not going to tell you more about because it would be a huge spoiler.
Vanished in the Dunes is a fun mystery with an abundance of twists and turns that took me places I didn’t see coming and then made hairpin turns when I wasn’t expecting them. Some of it is fairly obvious but enough of it is completely unexpected to keep the tension nice and taut all the way up to the end. It’s a quick read, which I love for vacation reading. If you like a fun whodunit, then you’ll probably enjoy this one – and somebody is going to win it!
Can’t wait to read it?
Vanished in the Dunes was published on July 5, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an ARC of Vanished in the Dunes by Allan Retzky!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 7/28/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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