cover image Bad Summer People

Bad Summer People

Emma Rosenblum. Flatiron, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-88700-9

In Rosenblum’s scintillating debut, liars, cheaters, and scoundrels converge on Fire Island for the summer, where a series of shake-ups to the seasonal routine culminates in the discovery of a dead body. A prologue features eight-year-old Danny Leavitt’s discovery of the body, which Rosenblum doesn’t identify or describe until the end, but which Danny excitedly takes to be a murder victim. The reader is then treated to colorful portraits of the cliquish seasonal community members without knowing which one will die. Rosenblum starts with broad strokes before really digging in to the various players, noting how the “men measured themselves by their net worth and women by their tennis games.” Rachel Woolf, 42, is the reigning gossip queen; Danny’s mother is a “B-lister”; lawyer Sam Weinstein and private equity investor Jason Parker, both married, continue a bitter rivalry over Sam’s wife, Jen, whom Jason dated first. Every island event—from Fourth of July to the Bay Picnic—is overseen by a 73-year-old curmudgeonly widow, Susan Steinhagen. Rosenblum does a terrific job of establishing the setting and atmosphere, and adds complexity to the plot by revisiting events from various points of view. This is wickedly entertaining. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (May)