Memorial Day weekend explodes with violence, skulduggery, and substance abuse at a luxurious waterfront estate.
Allen's author bio tells us he grew up in the Hamptons working for the rich folks, and his memories supply this debut novel with physical verisimilitude and boiling emotional energy. Gina Halpern and her teenage son, Corey, are both employed at the estate of the Sheffield family, she as their longtime head housekeeper, he as a porter, pool boy, and extra pair of hands during the hundred days of the summer season. Gina has gotten good at dulling her rage with cheap wine, prescription drugs, and a masochistic relationship with her horrible husband, but Corey's "Yes, sirs" and "No, ma'ams" are no more than a thin veneer of toadying over a socio-economic fury that has already led to a secret life of vandalism. The environmentally friendly cleaning products favored by Sheila Sheffield—"a post-menopausal woman with the short-cropped haircut of a little boy" and "the personality of a rooster"—are an ironic complement to the caustic attitude of he who sprays them. The novel blasts off the Thursday before Memorial Day with several early arrivals at the estate. Daughter Tiffany Sheffield and her best friend, Angelique, are home from college and plan to get the party started on their own. Little do they know that Corey is creeping around the roof and Tiffany's father has come out in a limo for a last hurrah with his very much younger boyfriend, just released from the psych ward after an attempted suicide. So much booze, cocaine, and pills are ingested in the first few chapters that Friday morning begins with a trip to an AA meeting, which only slows things down a little. There's nothing profound or unpredictable about any of this, but what is remarkable is the author's brio in causing and compounding ever more outrageous disasters. Watch out, entitled pigs with your boring conversations and your unseasonable, bright white sweaters draped over your shoulders. This is revenge.
Fans of the murder-in-the-Hamptons genre, and those who hate the rich on general principles, will enjoy this propulsive read.