Head Wounds

Head Wounds

by Chris Knopf

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Sam Acquillo can hide in his windswept waterfront cottage all he wants, but the demons of his past are going to find him. Worse, they've teamed up with some pretty nasty demons of the present, including a very determined Chief of Police whose top detective has Sam caught in the crosshairs.
Part-time carpenter, full-time drinker and co-conspirator with an existential mutt named Eddie Van Halen, Sam tries to lead the simple life. But as always, fate intervenes, this time in the form of Robbie Milhouser, local builder and blundering bully who shares at least one thing with Sam -- an irresistible attraction to the beautiful Amanda Anselma.

Peel back the glitz and glory of the fabled Hamptons and you'll find a beautiful place filled with ugly secrets. This is Sam Acquillo's world. Moving effortlessly across the social divide with wry pal Jackie Swaitkowski and rich guy Burton Lewis, the ex-boxer, ex-corporate infighter seems doomed to straddle the thin red line between envy and love, hate and forgiveness, goodness and greed.

And sometimes life and death. Only this time, the life at stake is his own.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013742604
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Publication date: 01/12/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 310
Sales rank: 659,179
File size: 601 KB

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Head Wounds 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The self-help website ¿How Stuff Works¿ exists to explain the dynamics of physical systems to the non-engineers among us. It¿s mirror-image Evil Twin website, ¿How Stuff Breaks Down¿, could be said to be at the epicenter of every one of Chris Knopf¿s Hampton Murder mysteries, including the sublime new ¿HEAD WOUNDS¿. This time out Sam¿s own head is on the block, and the colorful rabbit warren of clues and evidence interspersed with juicy 'and juiced' philosophizing makes for a great read. Before the deluge, Sam Acquillo was a highly-paid systems analyst for a petrochemical company, the guy you call in an emergency to figure out what¿s preventing a billion-dollar system from doing what it¿s supposed to do. High stakes, high stress, high pay, all of it. Suffice it to say, he flames out dramatically, in high style. Imagine yourself with marriage and job on the rocks, a leftover company credit card and car, limitless time and vodka on your hands. Ah, the possibilities. Understand, this is just the background reel, separate from the actual plot of ¿HEAD WOUNDS¿, though it informs the main character¿s motivations in important ways. This is fun stuff, folks. Forget everything you know and believe in, is the order of the day. The center cannot hold, because the wheel¿s out of round. So, drink more vodka, read Kant, and run it all by the dog, named Eddie Van Halen. There¿s not much holding Sam Acquillo together these days: ¿I can¿t do it again¿, I said finally to Eddie. ¿For any reason.¿ I didn¿t like to think of myself as a middle-aged guy who sat drinking alone in the dark, talking to his dog about his fears and uncertainties. But I¿d been doing that to Eddie since saving him from the pound, so he must have assumed listening to a bunch of worthless crap was part of his daily work product. ¿I can¿t do it¿, I repeated. All he did was look at me over the crumbled remains of his biscuit. I let it stand at that and finished my drink then one or two more to be on the safe side, before letting the encyclopedia of irresolvable quanderies that continually cycled through my consciousness shift into a dream state, thereby maintaining the continuity of torment from wakefulness to sleep. Are you beginning to dig this guy? The real fun starts when he applies his tortured but estimable problem-solving skills to his own survival, which involves a frame-up for a murder inside his community in the Hamptons. Along for the ride are a gaggle of locals, all wonderfully real flesh and blood. Knopf¿s specialty is intelligent, beautiful and conflicted women, which makes for some great dialogue. My one limited beef is that some of the exchanges go on one or two witticisms too long, sort of like selling past the close. But no matter this is excellent, to-the-bone writing. In many ways, Sam Acquillo¿s performing the same elite specialized function as when he was in the corporate wars: he¿s isolating system failures ¿ human now instead of mechanical - with limited time and resources, before the world blows up. Only now he¿s doing it without a salary, perks or yearly bonus. Go buy the book and see how he pulls it off.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Pull up an easy chair, light the lamp, and prepare to enter the world of Sam Acquillo. If you're a first time reader of this series, you'll soon discover it's a very strange world, which befits Sam as he's a unique guy. A former successful white collar worker and boxer, Sam is now a carpenter keeping vodka in his glass by working on pricey houses which are dotting the shoreline of Jacob's Neck and Oak Point. He lives in a cottage on the waterfront, often hangs out in Southhampton Village, and his best pal is his dog, Eddie Van Halen. His marraige ended in an acrimonious divorce, he and his daughter are all but estranged., and he's presently involved in an off again - on again romance with the beauteous Amanda who inherited a great deal of the land on which said expensive homes are being built. Sound as if Sam's in a downward spiral? Apparently so but the twists and turns make fascinating reading, especially when accompanied by Chris Knopf's painterly descriptions, and fully imagined characters. Sam is a puzzling protagonist, an affecting fellow for whom we keep rooting. First off, we wonder how he ever came to this - chief suspect in a murder case. Sam's super intelligent, has an MIT degree, uses four or five syllable words properly, freely, and reads Kant. But, here he is with Robbie Milhouser quite dead after several head blows from Sam's heavy construction stapler. Plus, a few folks witnessed a recent brawl between the two men. The rather complex plot involves finding out who the real killer is, which is done primarily by following Sam's thought processes. And, that is sometimes perplexing, often amusing, and always compelling. In the quest to vindicate Sam there is, of course, a little help from his friends. For this reader, chief among those pals is the libidinous Southhampton High School psychologist, Rosaline Arnold. 'On first meeting few realized how attractive she was, having trouble seeing past her nose. A big nose. Big enough to challenge the powers of exaggeration.' How can you not like Rosaline? Fact is, how could you not like Head Wounds? It has it all - pleasureful prose, sustained suspense, and the hope that there's more to come from the ever surprising Sam. - Gail Cooke