I love book covers - imagining what the story might be from the image(s) chosen before I even turn a page. The cover of Christopher Bollen's new book, Orient, grabbed me from the first glance - the colors, that stormy sky, the ominous looking lighthouse - and a great opening prologue....
"When people try to picture me, they undoubtedly recall only the last time they saw me, just before I went missing. There's been a lot of speculation about the night I left the Far North Fork of Long Island - how a nineteen-year old wanted for questioning in a string of murders managed to elude police and vigilant local drivers..."
The small town of Orient is separated from the mainland by geography, but also by the desire of the inhabitants to just 'leave things be'. Change is not necessary. But it's a beautiful place to live - and a number of 'outsiders' have discovered Orient. One of those native sons brings home Mills, a 'stray' to help him with some home cleanup. And the first body turns up not long after that. That idyllic veneer is paper thin - the town is seething with secrets, recriminations and personal agendas. And then there's that secret government facility on a neighboring island.
As I read, I was continually kept off balance - I had no idea what to expect and could not predict where Bollen's tale was going to go. The characters, their actions and their thoughts had me feeling distinctly unsettled - quite frankly I found most of the players to be unlikable, including Mills, who seems to be at the center of things, even though he is a newcomer.
But, I couldn't put the book down - I wanted to know who the killer was and what the motive was. I really appreciate an author that can keep me engaged and off kilter. The final whodunit was not what (or who) I expected at all. Bollen's mystery is well plotted, but it is the smoldering tensions and the duplicitous and self-oriented characters that were the stand out for me.
"Fear was viral, airborne, contagious. It opened doors for him. It allowed him to touch things that weren't his." Delicious. Orient is a chunkster, coming in at over 600 pages - and this reader enjoyed every one.
"Christopher Bollen is an editor at large for Interview magazine. He is the author of the novel Lightning People, and his work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, the Believer, and Artforum, among other publications. He lives in New York."
You can connect with Christopher Bollen on his website as well as on Twitter.
See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.