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.
CHRIS ORCUTT has written professionally for over 20 years as a fiction writer, journalist, scriptwriter, playwright, technical writer and speechwriter. He has also taught high school U.S. history and college writing. At Baruch College, City University of New York, Chris received the Distinguished Teaching Award, and as a newspaper reporter he received a New York Press Association award.
Chris is the author of the critically acclaimed Dakota Stevens Mystery Series. The first novel in the series, A REAL PIECE OF WORK, achieved a #1 top-rated ranking in Literary Fiction for Kindle, and #4 in Mystery. IndieReader writes of the novel, “Action, lust, danger, style and witty repartee, Orcutt’s A Real Piece of Work is a work of art.” The novel received similarly strong critical acclaim from other reviewers, as did the sequel, THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT. The third installment in the series, A TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION, debuts on January 1, 2015.
Chris’s short story collection, THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, was selected by IndieReader as one of the Best Books of 2013.
In April 2014, ONE HUNDRED MILES FROM MANHATTAN, a modern pastoral novel, was published. The novel tells the story of Wellington, a fictional wealthy community in Upstate New York. ONE HUNDRED MILES was selected by IndieReader as a Best Book for 2014, and in a review of the novel Kirkus Reviews favorably compared Chris to Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Cheever.
Chris was born in Maine, and although he now lives in Upstate New York, he will always consider himself a Mainer and a New Englander first. He went to college in Boston, earning a degree in philosophy (summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi), and has been a lifelong Red Sox fan. His hobbies include golf, chess, movies and travel.
For more about Chris, visit his website: www.orcutt.net.
For more about the Dakota Stevens Mysteries Series, visit www.orcutt.net OR www.dakotapi.com.
Dakota Stevens. The tough, wisecracking New York private eye. And he's smarter, funnier and sexier than ever.
And so is his "Watson"—brilliant chess grandmaster Svetlana Krüsh. With her dry wit. Her runway legs. Her predator eyes.
A Truth Stranger Than Fiction, the 3rd novel in the critically acclaimed Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, delves into the bizarre, interconnected world of foreign spies and fangirls, mobsters and murderers, government bureaucrats and corporate profiteers.
Manhattan PI Dakota Stevens has just moved into new offices on Fifth Avenue when a young woman walks in with a problem: her older brother, a famous science fiction author, has been missing for a week.
Before Dakota even has a chance to take the case, he and the young woman are accosted by a horde of people searching for the brother: government agents, thugs, mobsters, and two mysterious Chinese men. What could her brother possibly be into?
In a case that leads from the streets of Manhattan to the woods of Upstate New York, to Boston and the shores of Maine, to Washington, D.C. and the Midwest—by foot, train, truck, boat and private jet—what begins as a simple missing persons investigation quickly devolves into the most difficult and personal case of Dakota's career.
In the end, Dakota exposes a secret that literally has the power to change the world.
And the truth is a truth stranger than fiction.
With humor, action, intrigue, and lush writing, A Truth Stranger Than Fiction is a compelling noir mystery in the tradition of Robert Parker and Raymond Chandler.
Praise for the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series:
"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."
"A Truth Stranger Than Fiction is definitely worth the read. Between the fast pace and the clean, fluid language this story is hard to pause, and it’s thought-provoking in its real-world relevance. This story is highly entertaining and fun in its action and humor, but beholden to a deeper focus. From the strategic Mark Twain preface to the surprising climax, Orcutt takes a truth and hides it in plain sight. (4.5 stars)" — Theresa Caulkins, The Portsmouth Review
Chris Orcutt has riveted and delighted readers with his critically acclaimed Dakota Stevens Mystery Series. Now in his new short story collection, The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Orcutt applies his artistry and fertile imagination to the perfect genre for busy readers of ebooks—short fiction.
A collection of entertaining and unique stories about 10 men, The Man, The Myth, The Legend explores the idea that while men may come from very different walks of life, at root they are more alike than they seem, grappling with the same issues and facing the same dilemmas: love, lust, adultery, greed, pride, ambition, revenge, death, and a desire for their lives to mean something.
From the emotionally poignant to the outrageously humorous, these stories dramatize the lives of a wide range of fascinating men:
- African big-game hunter
- Writer and bond salesman
- Homicidal violinist
- Road sign "engineer"
- Global grain explorer
- Corporate speechwriter
- Professional dogcatcher
- Fine arts painter
- Civil War general
In the award-winning story "The Bootlegger," an ordinary man goes to extraordinary lengths to provide for his family during the Great Depression. In "The Blonde Imperative," a modern man contends with something all men have since the beginning of time—gut-wrenching temptation. And in "The Lost Dispatches of General George B. McClellan," an infamous Civil War general reveals the pitiful but hilarious depths of his own self-deception.
Brimming with action-adventure, ample humor, and clean, picturesque writing, The Man, The Myth, The Legend combines the compelling narrative drive of great movies ("What happens next?") with the gemlike beauty of the short story form.
Praise from Readers:
"Chris Orcutt's writing is a surprise at every turn of the page. The writing is impeccable and filled with underlying humor and wit."
"I would recommend The Man, The Myth, The Legend to anyone who enjoys suspense, romance, intrigue and humor. So, pretty much anyone."
"Orcutt's glib use of language and deft ability to switch into multifarious voices and writing styles captures the nuances of time, setting and mentality of each protagonist...making each story unique, engaging and insightful."
"I absolutely loved this collection of short stories. Each story is unique and has a different feel to it. I personally loved the story 'Seven Whole Grains on a Mission.' It's just incredibly clever and made me laugh out loud through the entire thing."
"Again, I was thoroughly engaged in Chris's beautiful use of our language."
"Let this book take you away from the ordinary and whisk you away to other worlds of interesting lives. You'll find yourself engrossed in every chapter, thinking about the stories you've read days later."
"This book is like a mahogany box of sample liquors and cigar on the side, each bottle providing a new flavor and a memorable aftertaste."
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."