Mark Mills


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

December 8, 2010

hat a terrific book this! It is a story about an investigation of the death of young wealthy woman, Lillian Wallace, whose body is found tangled in the nets of a fisherman named Conrad Labarde.

Mark Mills must have spent a ton of hours researching this novel, or else he grew up near Amagansett and worked as a fisherman - this book is loaded with detail about waves, fish, weather - not long boring descriptions, but with just a sentence or two Mills creates an authentic environment in which his characters move. The story is set just after WWII in the town of Amagansett. Amagansett is a sleepy fishing village on the eastern most point of Long Island - perhaps a 100 miles from New York City. But after the war development has spread outward from the city. Mills describes how the fisherman find themselves competing against the rich men who want to reserve the area for sport fishing. New manors are being built, a swanky Montauk Yatch club serves the wealthy during their summer holidays.

The dead woman, Lillian Wallace was a sister to Manfred Wallace, a successful business man who is considering a run for political office.

The police detective assigned to the case is Tom Hollis. Hollis was originally a policeman in the big city, but after a scandal, he has been assigned to the sleepy town. Nothing much happens in this out of the way neighborhood, though there was a mysterious hit and run that killed Lizzie Jencks a year earlier. That crime was never solved.

Mills does a masterful job describing his characters. The smallest character quickly displays a unique believable personality - Rollo (Conrad's fishing partner), Chief Milligan, Abel the photographer, Rosa the servant, Wakely the indespensible fix-it man for the Wallaces, or Mary Calder, the president of the LVIS - all of these "minor" actors in the story are more than just props, the reader gets the sense that they have real lives and stories of their own.

The main characters - Lillian Wallace, Tom Hollis, Conrad Lebarde and Mannfred Wallace all get detailed life histories that bring them alive. Mills is excellent at portraying these characters as real people, the authenticity of the story is incredible.

I should look up other novels by Mills, because it clear he is an excellent writer.