Magic Hour

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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 ...

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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

The bestselling author of Compromising Positions serves up a witty mixture of murder, satire, and romance set in the Hamptons. Called in to investigate the murder of a movie producer, Detective Steve Brady becomes obsessed with the victim's ex-wife and puts his career on the line for her—ignoring rules . . . and evidence. Advertising in People magazine.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061099489
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/1992
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Isaacs

Susan Isaacs is the bestselling author of eleven novels, two screenplays, and one work of nonfiction. She lives on Long Island.


Susan Isaacs, novelist, essayist and screenwriter, was born in Brooklyn and educated at Queens College. After leaving school, she worked as an editorial assistant at Seventeen magazine. In 1968, Susan married Elkan Abramowitz, a then a federal prosecutor. She became a senior editor at Seventeen but left in 1970 to stay home with her newborn son, Andrew. Three years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. During this time she freelanced, writing political speeches as well as magazine articles. Elkan became a criminal defense lawyer.

In the mid-seventies, Susan got the urge to write a novel. A year later she began working on what was to become Compromising Positions, a whodunit set on suburban Long Island. It was published in 1978 by Times Books and was chosen a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, Close Relations, a love story set against a background of ethnic, sexual and New York Democratic politics (thus a comedy), was published in 1980 by Lippincott and Crowell and was a selection of the Literary Guild. Her third, Almost Paradise, was published by Harper & Row in 1984, and was a Literary Guild main selection; in this work Susan used the saga form to show how the people are molded not only by their histories, but also by family fictions that supplant truth. All of Susan's novels have been New York Times bestsellers. Her fiction has been translated into thirty languages.

In 1985, she wrote the screenplay for Paramount's Compromising Positions, which starred Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. She also wrote and co-produced Touchstone Pictures' Hello Again. The 1987 comedy starred Shelley Long and Judith Ivey.

Her fourth novel, Shining Through, set during World War II, was published by Harper & Row in 1988. Twentieth-Century Fox's film adaptation starred Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith. Her fifth book, Magic Hour, a coming-of-middle-age novel as well as a mystery, was published in January 1991. After All These Years was published in 1993; critics lauded it for its strong and witty protagonist. Lily White came out in 1996 and Red, White and Blue in 1998. All the novels were published by HarperCollins and were main selections of the Literary Guild. In 1999, Susan's first work of nonfiction, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing on Page and Screen, was published by Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought. During 2000, she wrote a series of columns on the presidential campaign for Newsday. Long Time No See, a Book of the Month Club main selection, was published in September 2001; it was a sequel to Compromising Positions. Susan's tenth novel is Any Place I Hang My Hat (2004).

Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Adams Round Table. She sits on the boards of the Queens College Foundation, the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Association, the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and is an active member of her synagogue. She has worked to gather support for the National Endowment of the Arts' Literature Program and has been involved in several anti-censorship campaigns. In addition to writing books, essays and films, Susan has reviewed books for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Newsday and written about politics, film and First Amendment issues. She lives on Long Island with her husband.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Isaacs:

"My first job was wrapping shoes in a shoe store in the low-rent district of Fifth Avenue and saying ‘Thank you!' with a cheery smile. I got canned within three days for not wrapping fast enough, although I suspect that often my vague, future-novelist stare into space while thinking about sex or lunch did not give me a smile that would ring the bell on the shoe store's cheer-o-meter."

"I constantly have to fight against the New York Effect, an overwhelming urge to wear black clothes so everyone will think, Egad, isn't she chic and understated! I'm not, by nature, a black-wearing person. (I'm not, by nature, a chic person either.) I like primary colors as well as bright purple, loud chartreuse, and shocking pink. And that's just my shoes."

"I'm not a great fan of writing classes. Yes, they do help people sometimes, especially with making them write regularly. But the aspiring writer can be a delicate creature, sensitive or even oversensitive to criticism. I was that way: I still am. The problem begins with most people's natural desire to please. In a classroom situation, especially one in which the work will be read aloud or critiqued in class, the urge to write something likable or merely critic-proof can dam up your natural talent. Also, it keeps you from developing the only thing you have is a writer -- your own voice. Finally, you don't know the people in a class well enough to figure out where their criticism is coming from. A great knowledge of literature? Veiled hostility? The talent is too precious a commodity to risk handing it over to strangers."

"Writing is sometimes an art, and it certainly is a craft. But it's also a job. I go to work five or six days a week (depending how far along I am with my work-in-progress). Like most other people, there are days I would rather be lying in a hammock reading or going to a movie with a friend. But whether you're an artist or an accountant, you still have to show up at work. Otherwise, it is unlikely to get done."

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    1. Hometown:
      Sands Point, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Honorary Doctorate, Queens College
    2. Website:

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2006

    Great easy reading

    I enjoyed this book it was a first book I read from this author, now I will definitely read more of her books. Entertaining, suspensfull and funny, great mix.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2004


    I would say this was 'A-Typical' Isaacs -- a must read if you enjoy her work. She is certainly a one of a kind writer. The only other person I have seen develop characters with dialog like she does it is Robert B. Parker. (most especially his Spenser books). So lets see some more reviews for this book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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    Posted August 18, 2010

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