HAMPTON HEAT by Irving Weinman


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As with Tailor's Dummy (1986), the debut outing for NYPD homicide cop Len Schwartz, Weinman doesn't offer much mystery or traditional detection here. This time, however, in a somewhat less lurid and melodramatic investigation, the blend of action-sleuthing, psychodrama, and black-comedy is considerably more satisfying. Schwartz and art-historian wife Karen are house-sitting in the Hamptons, supposedly on vacation. But Len, as a favor to a colleague, looks into the local police force's latest case: the beach, murder of local historian Victor Amboys, apparently a mugging. And, almost immediately, Schwartz suspects that Amboys was really killed because of his documentary support of Indian claims to Hamptons land--land now owned by a Russian artists' community, land slated for major, lucrative development. Is famous, right-wing Russian artist Soloff behind the skulduggery? So it seems: Schwartz and Karen nearly die from poisoning after eating a mushroom-dish he shares with them. Later, Schwartz is near-drowned, near-bulldozed, and entirely seduced by Russian-American lass Natasha--a lapse that nearly destroys his strong yet edgy marriage--before dividing and conquering the three villains (Soloff's cohorts are a cop and a town leader) in a faintly bizarre finale-showdown (""like a mix between Sunset Boulevard and Geronimo""). Offbeat material, with some downright serious marital warfare--but the mix also includes enough erudite repartee, nastily distinctive farce (a gourmet food-fight), and wicked atmosphere to be firmly absorbing most of the way through.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1987
Publisher: Atheneum