THE LAST REFUGE
Sam Acquillo, the hero of Knopf's arresting debut (a Book Sense notable selection for May), is the very epitome of the dropout. An ex-corporation man, divorced from his wife and estranged from his daughter, he lives in his parents' run-down cottage in Southampton, Long Island, and seems content to drink himself into oblivion. Then one day he finds the black and swollen body of his elderly neighbor, Regina Broadhurst, who has apparently drowned in her bathtub. Is it an accident or murder? And if it's the latter, will solving the mystery behind Regina's death enable Sam to pick up the pieces of his life and move on? While the promotional copy's likening the book to Camus's The Plague may be a stretch, there's a definite whiff of Elmore Leonard here, particularly in the snappy dialogue and the colorful, oddball characters, including a gay billionaire. Knopf's effortless narrative style and sense of humor bode well for the further adventures of Sam Acquillo. (May 24)
Correction: Beth Saulnier's The Fourth Wall (Forecasts, Mar. 28) is the author's third Alex Bernier mystery and was first published in paperback in 2001.