cover image A Hamptons Christmas

A Hamptons Christmas

James Brady. Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-312-26604-2

Mistletoe replaces summer tourists, and an archly Victorian tone commingles with the modern, status-rich trappings of winter in this pleasantly absurd holiday offering set during the off-season in one of the infamous playgrounds of the wealthy. The East Hampton village depicted here will be familiar to readers of Brady's previous novels set in that locale (Further Lane; Gin Lane, etc.). This time out, blue-blooded Beecher Stowe and his father, the Admiral, are preparing to enjoy a cozy Christmas with Beecher's British girlfriend, Lady Alix Dunraven, when their plans are interrupted by the arrival of a poor little rich girl, 10-year-old Susannah. Her parents unpleasantly divorced, the precocious SusannahDwho smokes Gitanes, wields a Mont Blanc, and speaks multiple languagesDis hoping to Parent Trap them back together. To that end, she's come to the Hamptons in search of the woman who makes everything nice, Martha Stewart. Unfortunately, Martha is back home in Westport, Conn. As the Stowes and Lady Alix endeavor to save Susannah's Christmas, a local tug-of-war over prime cemetery space, a nun who's really a private detective, and Microsoft all figure into the farcical mix. Loquacious narrator Beecher Stowe and the Admiral are reminiscent of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Archie, the fun being their shameless name-dropping. The plot is frequently reiterated, Brady engages in hyperbole to the point of silliness and many of the anecdotes the characters relate are of the ""you had to be there"" varietyDbut, of course, no readers were there. (Nov.)