Good morning, readers! Today I'm kicking off the TLC book tour for Christopher Bollen's Orient.
The village of Orient is divided into two factions: the year-rounders and the outsiders. Fearing they may one day become the next Hamptons - taken over by big money and tourists - natives hold tight to their land and their closed community. So when one of their own, an architect who lives in the city and spends weekends at his family mansion, brings Mills, a foster kid, as his guest just before the summer ends, many are immediately suspicious of the boy. The most outspoken neighbors claim Mills will be a bad influence, attributing all sorts of trouble to the teen before he's even settled in. And when the death of the town caretaker follows close on the heels of Mills's arrival, the gossip and speculation only worsens. Before long, the whole town is up in arms and more deaths quickly follow. With few allies on his side Mills knows the best thing he can do is help solve the spurt of crimes, but in a town where any outsider is the enemy Mills's little investigation may not clear his name at all. In fact, it might make things worse.
Orient is a town filled with secrets, lies, and paranoia. A town ripe for murder, in other words! And murder does come fairly quickly. At first the death of the town drunk, who also serves as caretaker to many of the homes in town, is believed to be an accident. At least one person in Orient believes otherwise, though, and this is when the real trouble seems to begin.
Mills has never really felt a sense of belonging anywhere, but Orient is meant to be a place for him to get away from the city and get his life together. At least that's what Paul Benchley promises when he invites him to his home there. Mills does form a few solid friendships but he's not immune to the critical eye of Orient's most unwelcoming residents. The loudest of whom just happens to live right next door and she's a real doozie. Almost everyone hates the woman - understandable considering she seems to hate almost everyone around her - and she is the source of much of the gossip against Mills.
Her fears - and truly the fears of just about everyone else in Orient - seem to lie solely in the fact that they're afraid of losing their tight knit village life. And it's true that Orient has already seen an influx of second home buyers - artists and other sorts that the good folk of Orient believe will soon take over everything. The Orient Historical Board riles people up regularly, fear mongering being a big tactic in their campaigning, and the death of one of its board members only spurs things on more.
Before long, it seems everyone in Orient has motive for murder and Mills is the perfect scapegoat.
Orient is a barrage to the reading senses: Bollen is very heavy on the description, introducing the reader to character after character after character, digging deep not only into every aspect of these fictional individuals' lives but the town they inhabit as well. It makes the novel a meaty read, to be sure, but also cements for readers the true insularity of Orient. It is one that I'd recommend reading when you have time to really settle in - for me the pacing started to lag a bit around the 100 page mark but I barreled through to find that it improved greatly soon thereafter. I finished the book in a marathon reading session, desperate to see exactly how things would wrap up (and it wasn't exactly what I'd expected either!).
Orient is due out on shelves May 5 and is perfect for fans of doorstopper reads and mystery/thrillers!
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Christopher Bollen and his work, you can visit his website here.