Book Review: "Orient"



When Paul Benchley rescues a homeless teen from the streets of Manhattan and invites him to his summer home in the sleepy village of Orient, New York, he sets off a series of events that starts with a drowning and ends in multiple murders. The plot of Orient resembles that of a Stephen King novel: carcasses of mutant creatures wash up on the beach; innocents die in cruel ways; and the villagers all but wave pitchforks as moneyed city slickers invade their hamlet. Christopher Bollen’s thriller may be, at times, a little far-fetched, but the author adeptly captures the insular vibe of a small town. The tensions between the affluent New York artists who want to make a home in Orient and the suspicious families who have lived there for generations are cleverly and authentically articulated. Bollen ’98CC is an editor at large at Interview magazine, and his fictional artists seem drawn from real life: they may sometimes behave outrageously, but their musings on the uneasy relationship between art and commerce are thought-provoking and insightful. In the end, however, the baser human instincts of greed and envy drive the plot to its conclusion and the truly surprising revelation of whodunit.