A debut mystery, set in the Hamptons, in which the very rich and the very poor are seen as mutually explosive. Consider the case of young Galen Miller, for instance. He's become so positively bedazzled by the glitter he confronts on a daily basis that it's debased his value system, seduced him into believing there is no such thing as criminal behavior. To him, poverty is the only crime, and anything that works to fend it off is, therefore, justifiable. Even murder. As a result, Galen kills his conniving stepmother to keep her from cheating him out of his share of a million dollars. It's a nonexistent million, it turns out, a predictable delusion given the kind of fantasy world both Galen and his alcoholic father inhabit. Mark Barrett, head of those powerful East Hampton Barretts, easily leads the feckless pair astray, drastically overstating the potential value of the Millers' hardscrabble farm. Mark has his reasons, most of them acquisitive—as acquisitive as his reasons for paying court to Vicky, daughter of deceased billionaire Joseph Kirkpatrick. Never mind that Vicky is already married. Never mind that her husband Michael (a match for Mark in acquisitiveness) is on to his game. The thing is it's a game played by Hampton rules, which, it seems, are wildly permissive—extortion, perversion, and even murder all safely within bounds—providing the payoff is big enough. Lardo writes respectably, but his plotlines get tangled, his characters are mostly noxious, and who'd ever want to go near his Hamptons?
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