HardScape and StoneDust, the first Ben Abbott novels, established Ben as one of the most engaging and canny investigators to have appeared in a long time. Britain’s Literary Review terms the Abbotts “Smooth, sardonic, impeccably argued, immaculately written” while author Lawrence Block says: “Frostline is the best book in a series that started strong and keeps getting better.”
When Newbury’s newest resident, ex-diplomat Harry King, the close confidant of Kissinger and reputed to have been heavily involved in the Vietnam War, summons real estate agent Ben Abbott to his new McMansion, Ben dreams of big dollar signs. The commission from selling the Fox Trot estate would be huge. But King doesn’t want Ben’s selling expertise, he wants him to act as a mediator between him and his troublesome neighbour, surly Vietnam vet Ronnie Butler. A strip of Butler’s land cuts straight into King’s estate like a knife, acting as a red flag for two neighbors who are as ornery and quarrelsome as a pair of rival bulls. In fact, the testoserone is flowing heavier than the waters in the stream King is damming up for a picturesque lake.
Before Ben can mediate, an explosion rocks a lavish party on the Fox Trot lawn. The blast blows up the dam—and Butler’s ex-con son, Dickie, along with it. Butler, an army-trained sapper, is arrested for setting the dynamite. Ben, whose childhood friend Dickie had tried his patience and loyalty many times before, refuses to accept Butler’s guilt. Besides, too many things don’t add up. Could it be the work of terrorists? Of one of the many groups holding a grudge against King? Or just someone with his own axe to grind? With the Feds on the scene, caught in state and local law enforcement jockeying, Ben negotiates an unpopular course through the usual minefield of his various loyalties to friends, family and lovers, of whom there are plenty....
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Justin Scott was born in New York City in 1944. He is the author of many successful novels, including HardScape, The Empty Eye of the Sea, Shipkiller, The Man Who Loved the Normandie, A Pride of Kings, Rampage and The Cossack’s Bride.Review:
“This novel is a delight! Those of us who've been clamouring for a new Ben Abbott will be ecstatic with his latest adventure among the folk of Newbury.” -Jeffery Deaver
Ask not what happened to Justin Scott's pungent and most promising mystery series about a Connecticut real estate broker named Ben Abbott: The third entry (after "HardScape" and "StoneDust") is finally with us, and we should be properly grateful.
Abbott is a terrific character: a real estate broker with backbone and ethics (both earned during an early, life-changing, three-year stretch in Leavenworth "for the sins of an overly meteoric yuppie career on Wall Street") but also with the basic need to make a living selling property in the increasingly hot market of Newbury. So when Harry King (a Kissinger figure minus the accent) demands his presence at his huge Fox Trot estate, Abbott hoofs on up to King's burgeoning megamansion, where two of Abbott's less savory cousins are working security at the gatehouse.
King wants Abbott not to sell his house but to help him enlarge it by buying an adjoining stretch of land belonging to deranged Vietnam War veteran Richard Butler, who not only spurns King's money but also--as a former explosives expert--has a habit of blowing things up when he becomes upset. Add to this the fact that Butler's equally violent and dysfunctional son, Dickie (another shady part of Abbott's past), has just been released from prison and you begin to see the shape of the exciting, often-hilarious kinds of things to come.
“This is a sophisticated, intelligent novel, among the best of American crime-writing.”-Sunday Telegraph
"A pleasant, effortless read. --Deadly Pleasures
"First published in the U.K. in 1997 and now extensively revised and updated, this assured third entry in Scott s Ben Abbott series (after HardScape and StoneDust) provides plenty of macho action.... a thoroughly good read." --Publishers Weekly
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