Title: Plum Island
Author: Nelson DeMille
DeMille, Nelson (1997). Plum Island. New York: Warner Books
PS3554.E472 P57 1997
Date Posted: January 6, 2017
Since The Charm School (1988), DeMille’s page-turning skills have only improved, peaking with The Gold Coast (1990), faltering on Spencerville (1994), and returning to form with this trip back to the Long Island venue of The Gold Coast. This time, DeMille limns not the Fitzgeraldian wealth of Oyster Bay but rather the North Fork’s comfortably well-off–but less-fancy citizens. An NYPD homicide detective, John Corey, has moved into his uncle’s fine digs overlooking Great Peconic Bay. Restlessly recuperating from wounds received in the line of duty, he’s happy to answer the summons of the Chief of the Southold Town PD, an old friend, who hires him to consult on the double murder of Tom and Judy Gordon, biologists who worked on (nonfictional) Plum Island, the site of animal disease research for the Department of Agriculture. Were the Gordons murdered because they’d stolen some valuable new vaccine, or even a dreaded virus? They’d obviously far outspent their income, living high on the hog and buying a very expensive and speedy powerboat as well as an acre of bluff overlooking the bay. Had they been running drugs? Corey doesn’t think so, although an ice chest missing from their boat points to something forbidden being hauled from Plum Island. He teams up with Beth Penrose, a Southold detective working her first homicide. Their visit to the Plum Island research facility and the Gordons’ labs reveals only that the FBI and CIA have sanitized the place and have run up false information for public consumption. Corey also falls in with the star-crossed Emma Whitestone, a researcher of historic artifacts and an expert on Captain Kidd’s lost treasure, which is thought to be buried somewhere nearby. Among the murder suspects is nasty viniculturalist Fredric Tobin, a smoothie who lures the ladies with champagne and Concorde jets. Heavy wisecracking keeps the fun flowing as DeMille cranks up a thrilling, entertaining plot.