cover image Further Lane

Further Lane

James Brady. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-312-15533-9

Using a healthy dose of pungent satire to spice up an otherwise ordinary thriller, Brady's latest novel is a lighthearted romp through the various social strata of the Hamptons. It begins when the dead body of local lifestyle guru Hannah Cutting washes up on the beach with a stake driven through the heart. Journalist Beecher Stowe, a former foreign correspondent back on the island visiting the family homestead, suddenly finds his upcoming magazine feature on Hannah juiced up with a new and mysterious angle. Assisting Stowe in his effort to solve the case is gorgeous, classy Alix Dunraven, a book editor dispatched by her publishing house to track down the missing manuscript of Hannah's scandalous tell-all autobiography, which has suddenly become a compelling motive for murder among the various East Hampton celebs and upper-crusters. Hopping back and forth among the rich, nouveau-riche and what passes for the working class on the far reaches of the island, Stowe and Dunraven narrow the list of subjects to a land-controlling local demagogue, a former social and romantic rival of Hannah's, and a variety of interlopers who may or may not have been offended by the victim's rather brusque ways. The identity of the murderer is almost secondary to Brady's penchant for pithy dialogue, cameo appearances by the likes of Martha Stewart and Billy Joel, a nonstop array of insider's references in both entertainment and publishing and the author's observations on the foibles of the rich and famous. In a decade in which celebrity worship has become a viable cottage industry, Brady combines his novelistic talents with his status as a bicoastal insider to deliver the goods in this entertaining, fast-moving yarn. (May)