Orient: A Novel

Orient: A Novel

3.6 5
by Christopher Bollen

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Amazon Best Mystery of 2015

A gripping novel of culture clash and murder: as summer draws to a close, a small Long Island town is gripped by a series of mysterious deaths—and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

Orient is an isolated town on the north fork of Long Island,


Amazon Best Mystery of 2015

A gripping novel of culture clash and murder: as summer draws to a close, a small Long Island town is gripped by a series of mysterious deaths—and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

Orient is an isolated town on the north fork of Long Island, its future as a historic village newly threatened by the arrival of wealthy transplants from Manhattan—many of them artists. One late summer morning, the body of a local caretaker is found in the open water; the same day, a monstrous animal corpse is found on the beach, presumed a casualty from a nearby research lab. With rumors flying, eyes turn to Mills Chevern—a tumbleweed orphan newly arrived in town from the west with no ties and a hazy history. As the deaths continue and fear in town escalates, Mills is enlisted by Beth, an Orient native in retreat from Manhattan, to help her uncover the truth. With the clock ticking, Mills and Beth struggle to find answers, faced with a killer they may not be able to outsmart.

Rich with character and incident, yet deeply suspenseful, Orient marks the emergence of a novelist of enormous talent.

Editorial Reviews

Nelson DeMille
Advance Praise for Orient
“The quaint seaside village of Orient is not as pleasant as it seems, and Christopher Bollen will hold you spellbound as he reveals its secrets. A truly well-crafted and literate murder mystery that recalls the worlds of both P.D. James and Twin Peaks.”
A. M. Homes
Orient is a compelling novel of tragic suspense. Bollen has a gift for tightly drawn characters and an ominous sense of place.”
Joshua Ferris
“Orient is a taut and elegant suspense novel about strangers and strangeness, suspicion and forgiveness, reinvention and confession.”
Philipp Meyer
“The Great Gatsby meets Donna Tartt. Suspenseful, beautifully written, and wonderfully atmospheric, Orient is that rare treat that is both a page-turner and a book you will want to savor.”
“A classic page-turner that would make a fine companion to a towel and beach chair, but also delves deeper into modern paranoia regarding money, class and sexuality.”
New York Times
“Engrossing….[t]he characters are drawn in vivid detail, and the atmosphere is thickly enveloping.”
USA Today
“A gorgeously written book whose literary chops are beyond doubt. Come for the prose, and stay for the murders.”
“This is beach reading that’s as intelligent as it is absorbing.”
Miami Herald
“Bollen keeps you guessing until the end of this intriguing, fatalistic novel.”
Chicago Tribune
“…a book of real intelligence and line-by-line dexterity…”
“Thrilling and suspenseful with subtle shots of hijinks hilarity, this book will have you feeling like you can’t possibly turn the pages fast enough.”
New York Daily
“…a seductive new literary thriller….Orient is a novel of sophisticated malice filled with people we love to loathe, and all the better for it.”
Financial Times
“The test of a thriller is arguably in the resolution, and Orient’s is satisfyingly tense. The guessing game takes in the whole community, all well-drawn, and all with motives to kill…”
“Bollen takes a real place—the North Folk of Long Island—and weaves a mesmerizing fictional web of characters and mysteries into a story that is as viscerally thrilling as it is intellectually precise.”
CT News
“The writer keeps us guessing about the perpetrator(s) behind the murders until the last chapter, but it is the placement of the story in such a well-detailed, realistic environment that separates Orient from most other books in the genre.”
Publishers Weekly
An affluent Long Island town is the setting for secret affairs and multiple murders in Bollen’s big and ambitious second novel (after Lightning People). The catalyst for all of these misdeeds is a young “foster-care kid” named Mills Chevern, who finds a surrogate mother in Beth Shepherd, lifelong resident and failed artist. When local handyman Jeff Trader washes up on shore with a rope around his neck, foul play is suspected. Adding fuel to the fire is a big creepy creature, resembling a whale but black and disfigured so as to be unrecognizable, found on a beach. Locals connect these events to suspected nefarious doings by the Orient Historical Board and a nearby chemical plant. Wealthy dowager Magdalena convinces Beth to check out Jeff’s place for evidence of murder; when she visits the old woman to report what she’s found, she learns that Magdalena is dead. Beth begins investigating in earnest, with Mills as her wingman. Bollen is at his best when incisively depicting the self-delusions and prejudices of this remote community. Though packed with plot, this expansive novel falls a bit flat when all’s said and done. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (May)
Wall Street Journal
Praise for Lightning People:.“Ambitious. . . a nervy debut illuminated by flashes of insight.”
The New Yorker
“Bollen excels at creating an atmosphere of Manhattan-specific dread, and certain scenes, particularly the account of a struggling actor’s going-away party, are tragicomic masterpieces.”
“Heightened, poignant, and mysterious. . . Bollen’s atmospheric tale of post-9/11 New York has more twists and toxicity than the venemous snakes Del cares for at the Bronx Zoo. . . his frantic characters are alluring, his writing ravishing, and his insights trenchant.”
A. M. Holmes
Orient is a compelling novel of tragic suspense. Bollen has a gift for tightly drawn characters and an ominous sense of place.”
Library Journal
If you can't afford the Hamptons then Orient, a historic town on the North Fork of Long Island, may be just the place for you. It's quaint, seaside-adjacent, and a short drive to the city. But the influx of artists and Manhattan transplants has resulted in a culture clash with the longtime residents that just may have led to murder. Paul Benchley, a New York architect and longtime resident, rescued young Mills Chevern from a life on the streets and employed him to declutter his parents' old home. Gossip abounds about Mills, and when a local handyman and a beloved local activist are found dead, followed by a tragic case of arson, Mills is the immediate suspect. With the help of Paul's neighbor Beth, Mills sets out to solve the crimes and clear his name. But sleuthing in a small, close-knit community isn't so easy. People are tight-lipped and justifiably scared with a murderer in their midst. They fear drops in property values as much as the threat to their own lives. Suddenly, a deadly encounter rocks the town and gives Mills and Beth much to confront. VERDICT After a slow start, this debut novel ramps up to a breathless, well-crafted thriller with a thoughtfully drawn setting and a believable cast of characters who work their way to a shocking ending.—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-03-05
Art, money, and ill intent collide in Interview magazine editor Bollen's (Lightning People, 2011) sophomore novel. Mills Chevern ("You know by now that Mills Chevern isn't my real name") arrives in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island, as an adolescent drifter. He leaves a somewhat more established figure in the community, both suspect and savior. What happens in between is the subject of all kinds of speculation in Bollen's leisurely yarn, for his arrival coincides with a rash of murders in the placid community, a haven for the well-to-do and a slew of real estate agents, developers, and artists ("the sex was miserable, but they were artists who craved misery") who depend on those richies for their livelihoods. One, Beth, a native of the place with an intimate knowledge of where all the previous bodies are buried, so to speak, takes Mills in, courting the bad temper of a memorable Romanian artist who serves as a kind of Greek chorus to the later proceedings, growling and grumping. As the bodies mount, the huge pool of suspects begins to dwindle somewhat, for everyone, it seems, has a reason to kill; as Mills laments, "How can that detective suspect me when all these people had a motive?" Given all the possibilities, the identity of the real killer, in a nicely paced tale that unfolds deliberately over the course of 600 pages, is a nice surprise. Bollen could have chosen to sneer, scold, and satirize, for, he lets us know, at least some of the victims had it coming. But he mostly plays it straight—except, that is, for the moments of perilous same-sex entanglement, reminiscent of the best of Patricia Highsmith. And no one emerges unscathed from the gossipy tale, full of crossed storylines and small-town malice; Bollen has a real talent for summarizing character with zingers that nicely punctuate the story: "‘I love you too,' she said, chain-rolling and chain-smoking her cigarettes, a one-woman factory, her mouth a purple waste-management vent." Skillfully written, with delightful malice aforethought.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.44(d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Bollen is an editor at large for Interview magazine. He is the author of the novel Lightning People, and his work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, the Believer, and Artforum, among other publications. He lives in New York.

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Orient 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I love book covers - imagining what the story might be from the image(s) chosen before I even turn a page. The cover of Christopher Bollen's new book, Orient, grabbed me from the first glance - the colors, that stormy sky, the ominous looking lighthouse - and a great opening prologue.... "When people try to picture me, they undoubtedly recall only the last time they saw me, just before I went missing. There's been a lot of speculation about the night I left the Far North Fork of Long Island - how a nineteen-year old wanted for questioning in a string of murders managed to elude police and vigilant local drivers..." The small town of Orient is separated from the mainland by geography, but also by the desire of the inhabitants to just 'leave things be'. Change is not necessary. But it's a beautiful place to live - and a number of 'outsiders' have discovered Orient. One of those native sons brings home Mills, a 'stray' to help him with some home cleanup. And the first body turns up not long after that. That idyllic veneer is paper thin - the town is seething with secrets, recriminations and personal agendas. And then there's that secret government facility on a neighboring island. As I read, I was continually kept off balance - I had no idea what to expect and could not predict where Bollen's tale was going to go. The characters, their actions and their thoughts had me feeling distinctly unsettled - quite frankly I found most of the players to be unlikable, including Mills, who seems to be at the center of things, even though he is a newcomer. But, I couldn't put the book down - I wanted to know who the killer was and what the motive was. I really appreciate an author that can keep me engaged and off kilter. The final whodunit was not what (or who) I expected at all. Bollen's mystery is well plotted, but it is the smoldering tensions and the duplicitous and self-oriented characters that were the stand out for me. "Fear was viral, airborne, contagious. It opened doors for him. It allowed him to touch things that weren't his." Delicious. Orient is a chunkster, coming in at over 600 pages - and this reader enjoyed every one.
Kensi More than 1 year ago
I, too, was drawn to the almost haunting cover artwork of the novel and the overview sounded good.  This was a taut tale with well-drawn characters and an almost claustrophobic setting that served to force the characters to confront one another.  As the story built I couldn't put this e-book down.  I had it open when I was at the doctor's office and having breakfast!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a slow read and you can get lost in the plot development but very welk written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only on page 300, still don't understand why she married this guy in the first place