Monday, 23 March 2015 / No comments

Orient by Christopher Bollen

Title: Orient
Author: Christopher Bollen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aus)
Published: 1 April 2015
Source: ARC via NetGalley

At the eastern edge of Long Island, far from the hustle of New York City, stands Orient, a village that has been home to a few families for hundreds of years and is now - reluctantly - opening up to wealthy weekenders and artists from the city. 

On the last day of summer, a young man with a hazy past appears, and not long after comes a series of events that shatters the peace in this isolated community. A strange, twisted creature washes ashore on the Sound and then a human corpse is found floating in the water. A woman dies in bizarre circumstances and a house fire erupts out of nowhere. Fear and suspicion mount until everyone's secrets threaten to be exposed. But who is Mills Chevern? What is his real name and why is he here? As all eyes shift towards the orphan drifter, Mills elicits the support of Beth Shepherd, an Orient native who is hiding a secret of her own.

When native Long Islander, Paul, comes across Mills in a drug haze in his apartment hallway, he takes pity on him and gives him a home. He enlists Mills' help in a clear out of his parents' old home in the normally sleepy town of Orient. As an outsider, Mills doesn't get a very warm welcome, and when people start dying just after he arrives, he's a natural suspect.

I found Orient a bit of a slow burner at first, it took a while to get into initially, but the tension builds and builds until the final pay off which is definitely worth waiting for. It's not often that I have no idea who the killer is in a murder mystery, but I can honestly say I had no idea this time.

The point of view switches between Mills and Beth, a failed artist who has returned to Orient in the hopes of starting a family with her foreign husband. This allows us insights that Mills, as an outsider, wouldn't have about the community and helps to build the case against particular suspects. Each death is more violent than the last, and I stayed up way later than I should have to find out who was responsible.

Orient is a great thriller that is definitely worth sticking with.

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