Murder with a View

cover image: Vanished in the Dunes
Oceanview Publishing

A Review of Vanished in the Dunes by Allan Retzky

On the cover of Allan Retzky’s debut novel, Vanished in the Dunes, are branded three qualifying words: A Hamptons Mystery. Yet the only evidence of the upscale eastern New York region in the book is the glorious view enjoyed by the victim just before the unfortunate circumstances of her untimely demise. Other than one other scene on the nearby beach and the aforementioned panorama, Mr.Retzky might well have set his thriller in Boise. 

None of the action in this debut mystery, published, perhaps ironically, by Oceanview Publishing, is directly related to the breezy fishing village where it happens to take place; not as it is in, say, Mark Mills atmospheric 2006 mystery, Amagansett. In that novel, an entrenched Basque-American fishing family clash with the nouveau riche of eastern Long Island amidst the intrigue of murder. In Mills novel, place matters; it is intrinsic to the plot. Sadly, that is not the case in Vanished in the Dunes (A Hamptons Mystery), which is apparently the first book of a series.

Otherwise, the author does a fair job in his first outing. The plot is intriguing and there is a nice twist at the end. The pacing drags a bit in the middle pages, perhaps attempting to set a drowsy tone, but picks up to a  frenetic climax, only to plunge the reader into a prolonged denouement. The characters seem cookie cutter, all formed from the same or a similar mold. For instance, whenever anyone in this book speaks, they are difficult to discern from anyone else, I found the two main male characters, Amos Posner, an out-of-work commodities trader, and Dr. Henry Stern blending together as I read. There is just not enough character development beyond the scope of the action at hand, to care enough about what happens to these people. A little more back-story would have helped, especially concerning Posner and his wife Sara.

When it comes to mysteries or thrillers however, the critiques above are minor. Mr Retzky has a strong sense of story. He knows how to engage the reader with situation, which is most evident in the first chapter, and need only enhance his writing with a tad more sense of place, work on his dialogue, and more deeply motivate his characters, to join the ranks of other successful best-seller authors.
  • Title: Vanished in the Dunes
  • Author: Allan Retzky
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oceanview Publishing (July 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608090531
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608090532