Alison wants to be living a fabulous life filled with myriad social engagements. She just also wants to not shower, put on a bra or leave the house. Plus, she dislikes dancing, the Fourth of July and costume parties that involve skimpy attire. Basically, if it’s fun, count her out, which is too bad, since she so desperately wants you to think she’s fun.
"Tropical Attire Encouraged” came to be on her birthday a few years ago, when her husband, Daniel Quantz, presented her with a hand-bound book of her columns from the first year she was syndicated. He worked late at his office to keep it a surprise. At the top of each one, he included a hand-drawn illustration. Daniel told her he made it because he wanted her to know he believed in her and felt she should be published in book form, and because one year, she gave him an over-the-cabinet-door organizer, and he wanted her to really know—like, on a visceral level—just how crappy her gift was in comparison. (He didn’t say this, but it was implied.)
One Hundred Miles from Manhattan is a novel about an upscale rural community (Wellington, NY), where the hills and the seemingly quaint village conceal lives of love, lust, adultery, tragedy and small wars.
Unlike other novels in the pastoral tradition, which tell the story of a place and a time through the eyes of a single character, this modern novel uses 10 narrators, a different one per chapter, to shed light on this exclusive community.
In Wellington, a trophy wife undergoes a shocking transformation. A medical doctor attracts his own destruction. A local bachelor steals a dog and has an epiphany. A town Casanova goes on a personal odyssey to make amends. And a Manhattan book editor reveals what it's like to be a first-time visitor to this rarefied world of wealth, horses and equestriennes.
To this exquisitely written novel, Chris Orcutt brings his meticulous craft and his talent for writing in multifarious voices and styles, all while exposing a world of massive estates, rolling green hills, hilltoppers, townies, celebrities, hopes, dreams, sex, and the fleeting promises of love...
A Q&A with Chris Orcutt:
What do you mean by "modern novel"?
Here's why I call One Hundred Miles from Manhattan a "modern novel": 1) the novel is told by 10 different narrators, one per chapter; and 2) the timeline is segmented.
For example, in the movie Pulp Fiction, the scenes are presented out of order. That's what I do here. It's the story of one year in Wellington, but the events are shown out of order. The book starts in the late spring/early summer, then goes to the early spring, then mid-summer, etc. It is not in chronological order.
I believe this enhances the reader's experience. Also, many characters overlap between the chapters, and so do the events.
Why 10 different narrators or points of view?
As much as I admire the single POV novel, in today's ultramodern society, where everyone is a star (or considers himself one; social media tools aid in this delusion), everyone's story or POV contributes to the larger story. Nowadays, it doesn't make sense that any one person would be capable of telling the complete story of a town.
How is Wellington unique?
Actually, I don't think Wellington is unique (as in "being the only one of its kind") as much as it's iconic or symbolic.
There are lots of wealthy communities with big estates, rolling green hills, exclusive rod and gun clubs, pheasant farms, Range Rovers, a lively but mostly unnoticed equestrian scene, and a low simmer of conflict between "hilltoppers" and "townies." Wellington is meant to be an amalgamation of several of those places, and it's also meant to be more of an idea than an actual place. Mythical, if you will.
Imagine if the world of Mr. Darcy's Derbyshire could be transplanted to modern-day Upstate New York. That's Wellington.
What was your inspiration for the novel?
I first got this idea of writing a novel about a wealthy community over 20 years ago, when I was a reporter in a small town similar to Wellington. But at the time I could only envision the story being told from the POV of the local reporter. I'm so glad that I waited to write this book, because I think that the use of 10 narrators gives the reader a richer, broader experience of the town, and because back when I was a reporter, my writing skills weren't even close to what they are now.
I was also deeply inspired by my favorite classic authors of pastoral fiction including Chekhov, Tolstoy, Hardy and Austen.
The Rich Are Different, the 2nd novel in the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, enters the rarefied world of a Long Island heiress and her murdered brother who owned an Old West resort in Montana.
To hunt down the man's killer, Dakota and Svetlana must go undercover as actors in a make-believe mining town straight out of 1885.
This highly anticipated sequel to A Real Piece of Work picks up a few months after that difficult case. Dakota Stevens is depressed. He's darker, battle-scarred and less cavalier. He's lost his detecting mojo and hasn't taken a case since A Real Piece of Work. Can he get his mojo back and find the killer?
Like bullets from a Gatling gun, the suspects come fast and furious: eccentric heiresses, greedy CEOs, catty thespians, sexy henchwomen, angry Native Americans, mysterious mobsters, menacing mercenaries, kinky housewives and contract killers.
It's a classic case of East meets West as Dakota and Svetlana follow a trail of clues that takes the reader from the sophisticated setting of The Great Gatsby to the forbidding land of Pale Rider.
National Bestselling Author Dave King calls The Rich Are Different, "Brainy, stylish, imaginative and a great deal of fun."
Praise from Readers:
"Had I paced myself, I could have milked at least a week out of the book. But, no. My will power waned and I was done in 2 nights."
"Dakota Stevens is thoroughly likable and appealing with his rich mix of chivalry and clever mischief."
"The Rich Are Different is an excellent sequel and has been well worth the wait."
"This series is quick-paced with its twists and turns that you won't be able to put down the book until you and Dakota solve the crime."
"I'll read anything Orcutt puts out."
"Anyone who reads this should make sure to have a defibrillator nearby."
"The characters are so real, the storyline so compelling, that real life took a backseat during the 2 days I was reading each of these books."
"The writing is excellent. The story moves at a good pace. What I like most is the characters are just spot on. Great book. Great writer."
"There are no wasted words, no extraneous chapters, no unnecessary passages, just good old fashioned mystery and suspense, without being melodramatic or over the top."
"Grab some coffee, a Snuggy and a fresh pair of Depends because you won't be able to stop reading once you start!"
"A fantastic journey through beautifully described landscapes with an exceptionally well-written cast of characters. The attention to detail Orcutt achieves while still keeping the story moving at a quick pace is genius."
And meet his gorgeous and formidable "Watson"—brilliant chess grandmaster Svetlana Krüsh.
A Real Piece of Work, the 1st novel in the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, delves into a world of forged and stolen art, secret identities and murder.
At the close of a case in Key West, PI Dakota Stevens and his associate Svetlana Krüsh return to New York, where the city is in the grips of its worst blizzard since 1888. When an art dealer stumbles in from the storm and hires them to find a stolen painting, they think it's just another case, but in no time they're neck-deep in a world of unstable artists, seductive gallery owners, mysterious collectors, deadly henchmen and a stunning femme fatale.
In a thrill-ride of a mystery that leads from Manhattan to the Catskills to Washington, D.C., what begins as the simple recovery of a painting soon reveals an international art scam and a chilling secret hidden for decades.
Dakota Stevens is a former FBI agent with experience in the field and the lab, a modern PI who combines the wit and grit of Marlowe and Spenser with the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes. However, Dakota's "Watson" is anything but. A Ukrainian-American chess champion with runway legs, predator eyes, and fluency in seven languages, Svetlana Krüsh is much more than a sexy sidekick, bringing worldly sophistication and a razor-sharp mind to their cases.
A fast-paced and intelligent mystery in the noir tradition, A Real Piece of Work is a pristinely well-written page-turner for readers who like a great story told with literary style.
"Action, lust, danger, style and witty repartee, Orcutt's A Real Piece of Work is a work of art." — IndieReader
Praise from Readers:
"Orcutt has combined a classic hard-boiled with the page-turning frenzy of a Dan Brown novel."
"PI Dakota Stevens is a cross between Philip Marlowe and Jason Bourne and his partner Svetlana Krush is a chess Grandmaster with the body of a Victoria's Secret model."
"Just when you think you've solved the mystery, Orcutt surprises you with another unexpected twist."
"As for the characters—perfection. Flawed, funny, heroic and developed fully from the first page until the final page."
"I read A Real Piece of Work in three days. Didn't get much sleep...but it was well worth it."
"Dakota Stevens and his indispensable sidekick/chess champion Svetlana Krush are a delightful modern take on the noir detective style."
"The author's ability to paint a picture or scene with words is astounding. This book is ripe for adaptation to film."
"Orcutt weaves a story that keeps you hanging on until the very end."
"People in the reviews keep mentioning Spenser/Robert B. Parker, and they're right; but add a good streak of John Le Carré, turn the roaster up a notch, and maybe you're getting in the ballpark."
"Reading Orcutt is like chasing a lit fuse into a dark tunnel."
"I am now stalking this author, anxiously awaiting the release of his next book in the series."
More about A Real Piece of Work:
* The novel contains a password, giving buyers access to research bonus material on the Dakota Stevens website.
* The novel is based on over 2,000 pages of articles and government documents (including information about the now-famous Monuments Men) to ensure that elements of the book are historically accurate.