Author: Christopher BollenSummary: As summer draws to a close, a Small Long Island town is plagued 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 hamlet on the North Fork of Long Island—a quiet, historic village that swells each summer with vacationers, Manhattan escapees, and wealthy young artists from the city with designs on local real estate. On the last day of summer, a teenage drifter named Mills Chevern arrives in town. Soon after, the village is rocked by a series of unsettling events: the local caretaker is found floating lifeless in the ocean; an elderly neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances; and a monstrous animal corpse is discovered on the beach not far from a research lab often suspected of harboring biological experiments. Before long, other more horrific events plunge the community into a spiral of paranoia. As the village struggles to make sense of the wave of violence, anxious eyes settle on the mysterious Mills, a troubled orphan with no family, a hazy history, and unknown intentions. But he finds one friend in Beth, an Orient native in retreat from Manhattan, who is determined to unravel the mystery before the small town devours itself. Suffused with tension, rich with character and a haunting sense of lives suspended against an uncertain future, Orient is both a galvanic thriller and a provocative portrait of the dark side of the American dream: an idyllic community where no one is safe. It marks the emergence of a novelist of enormous talent. ~powells.com
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Genre: Crime, Mystery
Bottom Line: Twisty, fascinating look at a small town when a stranger comes around
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Review: At 624 pages, Orient looks intimidating but it isn't for long because Mr. Bollen pulls you in quickly. It is fairly clear that even though Mills is an outsider to Orient it isn't him who is causing the chaos there. The residents of Orient aren't comfortable with change; they don't like the outsiders coming in and taking over "their" town.
While solving the mystery of the murders and other mysterious goings-on in Orient is the readers main focus, it is also an interesting study of the residents themselves. There are a bunch of characters in that small town, both old and new residents. Even before Mills arrives they are already wary of him. They are determined to think only negative of him and are immediately suspicious of him.
What Mr. Bollen does very well is keeping you guessing who the murderer is by laying a ton of red herrings. As a reader you are uncovering the clues at the same time as Mills and Beth. What I like about this type of narrative is that you aren't "yelling" at the characters because you know who it is and are dying for them to figure it out.
I was actually completely surprised by the ending. My mind went in a completely different direction with what was going to happen.
While the book is told from both Beth and Mills perspectives, it is the other characters that keep the novel moving along. For a small town, there sure is a lot of dirty laundry. I'm sure that we'd all be shocked about our neighbors from time to time too. The subplots are just about as intriguing and fascinating at the murder mystery. There is a lot going on in Orient.
I believe that there is a bit of something in the novel for everyone. If you like character driven novels, you will like these characters. If you like plot driven novels, you will like the way Mr. Bollen paves the road to the ending.
I'm anxious to read what Mr. Bollen has up next and perhaps that is the best review a reader can give.