The East End by Jason Allen is a riveting and original tale set in the Hamptons. I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for this novel!
The story begins with Corey Halpern, a Hamptons local from a broken home who breaks into mansions at night for kicks. He’s not looking to cause any harm but it serves as an odd form of escapism for him. One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks in to the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate, where he and his mother, Gina, work. Leo Sheffield—a billionaire CEO, patriarch and the owner of the vast lakeside manor—arrives unexpectedly with a companion.
After a shocking poolside accident, everything depends on Leo burying the truth before his family and friends arrive for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened, as did other eyes in the shadows. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina and Leo approach a common breaking point.
We read the story from the perspectives of Corey, Gina and Leo. The author Jason Allen does a fantastic job of making sure each character sounds distinct and also appropriate for age and education. While this one isn’t as much of a mystery, there’s plenty of suspense with regards to how the characters are going to act and what will happen next.
When you take in account each of the three main characters—it would be easy to fall into stereotypes. For instance, Corey, the heart of gold from the wrong side of the tracks; Gina, the misguided alcoholic who loves her family and Leo, the mega rich and selfish man. But Jason makes sure that they rise above these stereotypes and are all quite complex and different than what I expected. Particularly, Leo. All three have compelling and interesting character arcs.
Socio-economic divide in the Hamptons
While there are plenty of “rich people problems” and class divide stories, The East End truly does tackle the differences between the ultra-rich and working class folks. Between those three characters, there’s not a villain but plenty of flaws and poor decisions. I thought I would get annoyed at the Leo character but he’s much more complex than what meets the eye.
The author grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. So he brings an authoritative voice on the topic (learn about Jason’s writing inspirations and more with this Q&A). He really paints a striking picture of going from these mega mansions to a rundown poor area of the same town. It’s hard for Corey and Gina to hide the bitterness as being identified only as the “help” and nothing more. There’s much to unravel there.
This is a suspenseful tale that will keep you guessing but will also make you think. It’s well worth your time. The book will publish on May 7.