Magic Hour

Magic Hour

3.3 3
by Susan Isaacs

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Movie producer Sy Spencer -- one of the premier summer residents of the Hamptons, Long Island's oh-so-fashionable beach resort for everyone who is anyone -- has hosted his last power clambake, thanks to whoever shot him dead beside his oceanfront pool.

Heading the investigation is Hamptons native Steve Brady. His prime suspect is Sy's ex-wife Bonnie, a strangely

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Movie producer Sy Spencer -- one of the premier summer residents of the Hamptons, Long Island's oh-so-fashionable beach resort for everyone who is anyone -- has hosted his last power clambake, thanks to whoever shot him dead beside his oceanfront pool.

Heading the investigation is Hamptons native Steve Brady. His prime suspect is Sy's ex-wife Bonnie, a strangely appealing and energetic woman both in and out of bed. As the case against Bonnie builds, so does Brady's obsession with her. Before long, he's laying the case and his career on the line for her, ignoring all the rules, all the evidence, and all common sense

Editorial Reviews

Helen Dudar
Sailing through Susan Isaacs' new novel, Magic Hour, is like polishing off an entire box of chocolate-covered cherries.You know it can't be nourishing. But it is fun. -- New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
A delightful blend of obsession, comedy, romance, movies and murder.
New York Times Book Review
Vintage Isaacs. . . . Magic Hour is like polishing off an entire box of chocolate-covered chocolates. . . . Fun.
Washington Post Book World
Clever, unexpected, drum-tight. . . . The plot is streamlined and the time-frame is short and the voice we hear is witty, and coming-at-us real.
Detroit News
A wonderfully rich, sensual sort of novel. . . . The dialogue rips along with panache, with sharp and surprising turns, always funny, always fun.
Chicago Tribune
Magic Hour does exactly what it's supposed to do — entertain.
New Woman
If you're in search of pure entertainment, pick up a copy of Magic Hour.
Holds its edge.
Pittsburgh Press
A witty and sexy page-turner.
Washington Times
A novel that keeps you guessing, raises your eyebrows, races your motor and makes you laugh out loud, only to bring you, in the end, close to tears. Magic Hour is a hats-off achievement.
Entertainment Weekly
Snappy plot.
Anne Tyler
Elegantly funny and original. . . . Long after the handcuffs are snapped shut you're likely to find yourself smiling fondly at the memory of Susan Isaacs's one-of-a-kind characters.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

Magic Hour

By Susan Isaacs

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Susan Isaacs
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061099481

Chapter One

Seymour Ira Spencer of Manhattan and Southampton was a class act. Hey, the last thing you'd think was "movie producer." No herringbone gold chain rested on a bed of chest hair; there was no fat mouth, definitely no cigar. If you could have seen him, in his plain white terry-cloth bathrobe (which he was too well-bred to have monogrammed), standing on the tile deck of the pool of his beachiront estate, Sandy Court, sipping a glass of iced black-currant tea, talking softly into his portable phone, you'd have thought: This is what they mean when they say good taste.

I'll tell you how tasteful Sy Spencer was. He actually might have hung up, strolled inside and picked out a Marcel Proust book to reread. Except just then he got blasted by two bullets, one in his medulla, one in his left ventricle. He was dead before he hit the deck.

Too bad. It was a gorgeous August day. I remember. The sky was a blue so pure and powerful you almost couldn't look at it. Who could take that much beauty? Down at the beach, where Sy was, silver-white gulls soared, then dive-bombed into the ocean. The sand gleamed pale gold. Farther north, out beyond my backyard, potato fields gave off a rich, dark-green light.

It was the kind of perfect Long Island day thatmakes the summer people say: "Darrr-ling [or Ma chere or Kiddo), this is such a glorious time out here. And do you know what's so pathetic? All the little social climbers are so busy being upwardly mobile that they never get to appreciate" -- taking a deep, sensitive sniff of fresh air through their dilated nostrils -- "such breathtaking loveliness."

Jesus, were they full of shit! But they were right. That day, the sun bathed the entire South Fork of Long Island in glorious light. It was like a divine payoff. For the last five years, one of the secretaries in Homicide had been bestowing the same benediction on me: "Have a nice day, Detective Brady!" Well, God had finally come through. This was it.

For Sy Spencer, of course, this was not it. And to be perfectly honest, the day, wonderful as it was, wasn't so nice for me either. Nothing as dramatic as Sy's day. Definitely not so fatal. But the events of that sunny summer afternoon changed the ending of my story almost as much as they did Sy's.

I was home in the northwest comer of Bridgehampton, six miles east and five miles north of Sandy Court, in considerably less impressive circumstances. My house was a former migrant worker's shack. It had been renovated by a hysterically ambitious, pathetically untalented, ponytailed Brooklyn Heights architect, who comprehended, too late, that the place would never be considered a Find. He had been forced to sell it cheap to one of the locals (me) because even the most gullible smoothie from New York would not buy a low-ceilinged, Thermopaned, whitewashed hovel with a six-burner restaurant stove and aggressively cute fruits and flowers stenciled along the walls and floors, situated on a rutted, geographically undesirable road between a potato field and a stagnant pond.

Anyway, somewhere around the time the bullet blasted through the base of Sy's skull, my life also blew up. Our two lives -- ka-boom! -- were joined. Of course, I didn't know it. Unlike movies, life has no sound track; there was no ominous roll of drums. For me, it was still a nice day. A fantastic day. There I was, with my fiancee, Lynne Conway, lying on a blanket on the grass in my backyard, having moved outside from the bedroom for a little postcoital sun, conversation and iced tea. (I'd even thrown a couple of lemon circles into our glasses, to show that, okay, Lynne might have gone to Manhattanville College and known about fish forks, but I could still be a gracious host.)

Of course, if I had been truly gracious, we would have been stretched out on lounge chairs, but in the last few years I hadn't had time for amenities like towels without holes, much less outdoor furniture. So what? I knew all that would change in three months, when we got married. We'd have lounge chairs on a brick patio. A barbecue with a domed cover. Tuberous begonias. I would stop referring to the bacon-cheddar cheeseburgers I ate in the greasiest diners in Suffolk County as dinner; I would come home to poached salmon with parsleyed potatoes, fresh asparagus. I would, at age forty, be a newlywed.

I turned over onto my side. Lynne was so pretty. Dark-red hair, that Irish setter color. Peachy young skin. A perfect nose, slightly upturned, with two tiny indentations on the tip, as though God had made a fast realignment in the final seconds before her birth. She wore khaki shorts that revealed her fabulous long legs. It wasn't just her looks, though. Lynne was a lady.

She came from a good family . . . well, compared to mine. Her father was a retired navy cipher expert. His retirement seemed to consist of sitting in a club chair, his white-socked feet on an ottoman, reading right-wing magazines and getting enraged at Democrats.

Lynne's mother, Saint Babs of Annapolis, went to Mass every morning, where she probably prayed that the Lamb of God would strike me dead before I could marry her daughter. Babs Conway needlepointed all afternoon while she watched The Young and the Restless and Geraldo; she was eight years into her masterwork, a gigantic "The Marys at the Sepulchre" throw pillow.

So there was Lynne: a nice Catholic girl. And a good woman. A beauty. Believe me. I knew precisely how lucky I was to have her. My life had not been what you'd call a charmed existence. Happiness was a blessing I'd doubted I deserved and never believed I would receive.

"For the honeymoon," she said softly, adjusting the shoulder seam of my T-shirt, "what would you think -- this is just another option -- if instead of Saint John we spent a week in London?"


Excerpted from Magic Hour by Susan Isaacs Copyright © 2006 by Susan Isaacs. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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