RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Beach Road, by James Patterson and Peter DeJonge; Read by Bill Baldwin, Orlagh Cassidy, Erik Bergmann, Rodney Gardiner, Rayme Cornell, Charles Turner, and Richard Ferrone

Beach Road

Not everyone on Beach Road in the Hamptons is rich and famous. Tom Dunleavy, a mediocre lawyer and former hometown high school basketball hero, suddenly finds himself in the media spotlight after one of his young friends is accused of murdering three other local boys. The accused, Dante Halleyville, is destined to be the next Michael Jordan until a fight at a pickup basketball game is followed by the brutal execution of three white boys, and he's the prime suspect. Tom reluctantly agrees to represent Dante despite overwhelming evidence that the young black man is guilty.

This book exposes an aspect of the Hamptons not usually seen in popular fiction, the local communities inhabited by everyday workers and citizens. Dante, who is "built like a basketball god" should be preparing for the NBA draft after rising from poverty in Bridgehampton. Instead, he and Tom are confronting their neighbors, the parents and friends of the murdered boys. What outsiders might imagine as an idyllic area emerges as a zone of racial tension, drugs and police corruption.

Patterson and DeJonge have written a thriller of a mystery with romance and realism, told from the points of view of 6 of the main characters. Billy Baldwin's portrayal of Tom is especially believable in view of the fact that he was born and raised not far from the Hamptons. 6 more actors give credible voices to the narrator and to the other characters.

Beach Road is a gripping beach read and a great road trip book. The descriptions of the multimillion dollar beach properties and the quaint Long Island communities make the listener want to meander among the dunes and boutiques. As usual, Patterson's story contains stunning surprises, but the concluding bombshell in this book may be his most astonishing shocker of all.

Ruth Mormon

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