Sam Acquillo is getting more sociable. People are constantly dropping by, including guys in black outfits with .45 automatics breaking into his cottage in the middle of the night.
Sam does what’s needed to encourage a candid conversation with the home invader, with surprising results.
Suddenly his past pulls him back to the world of big money and even bigger egos, where the term “corporate intrigue” is redundant and ambition the only virtue, a world of private security goons, predatory financiers and lifestyles of young hedonists, some brave, some beautiful, all a bit lost.
With lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski, cop friend Joe Sullivan and the beautiful Amanda Anselma in tow, and fisherman Paul Hodges and mutt Eddie Van Halen eager to help, Sam is back on the quest. This time with a few ambitions of his own, which lead him to places his boxing and boardroom battles could have never prepared him for.
Sailing back from Maine, Sam Acquillo, his girlfriend Amanda Anselma and screwball mutt Eddie Van Halen get blown off course by a dangerous gale. With damaged boat and frayed nerves, they limp into the closest harbor, which happens to be on Fishers Island, NY, a distant and altogether disassociated scrap of Long Island.
A summer preserve for the oldest old money in America, and defended by year-round denizens who safeguard their island's insularity with xenophobic fervor, Sam and Amanda are hardly welcomed with open arms. Unless they're the arms of the young and beautiful Anika Fey, daughter of the owner of the Black Swan, the island's only hotel, who's only too eager to fold Sam into her embrace.
But feminine wiles aren't the only hazard faced by Sam and his crew. They're soon swept up in big-money intrigue, dark conspiracy, brutality, murder and the machinations of high-tech millionaires, to say nothing of the autumn storms that lash the island with wind and wave.
In the years since losing everything, Sam has fought his way back, to an existence that even he believes is worth preserving. And now, bad timing and a broken rudder could result in the greatest loss of all-his life.
Jackie Swaitkowski may not be the most buttoned-up lawyer in the Hamptons, but a plane crash before her very eyes is hard to miss. Just before the struggling air taxi takes a nosedive, its female pilot tosses out a camera case. To Jackie, the accident’s only witness, the case (so to speak) seems meant for her.
The camera's memory card holds an unusual set of photos. Jackie recognizes more than a few of the faces in those pictures. Are they telling her the story of the crash? The pilot, a hard-nosed biker chick named Eugenie Birkson, came from a family tree filled with ex-cons, and boasted a passenger list packed with high society. And Jackie soon learns that solving the mystery of Eugenie’s death will mean uncovering some dark secrets from her own past as well.
All this and a freshly revived romance with gentle giant Harry Goodlander and Jackie yet again has her heart and her hands full.
Meet Jackie Swaitowski, a smart-aleck attorney whose legal turf is supposed to be the buzzing Hamptons real-estate market. But when a new client turns up dead, things take a sudden and decidedly dangerous turn. In a client's pocket is an envelope that contains a shocking piece of evidence that suggests that the death was anything but an accident.
Jackie has bigger fish to fry--like her old flame Harry's surprise return to town--until a late-night car chase changes her priorities. Now she has every reason to believe that the next name on the killer's list is her own.
Chris Knopf has been praised for his quick-witted writing and broad knowledge of the highs and lows of Hamptons life, and his books have been included on best-of-the-year lists complied by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and others. Now, in Short Squeeze, he brings an irresistible new heroine to center stage.
Gwendalynn Anders, a mid-Western girl who's never seen the ocean, wonders what was in that joint she smoked a week before waking up on Elysiana, and why it feels like the trip will last the entire summer of 1969.
Jack Halcyon, living atop an abandoned twenty-story hotel, wonders how he's able to ponder the incongruities of life after leaving a big chunk of his brain at the scene of an accident.
Borough Council President Norman Harlan wonders what cruel God put him on an equal footing with Avery Volpe, the fearsome Captain of the Beach Patrol.
Twelve miles long and a mile wide, Elysiana is an island off the coast of New Jersey sitting astride the convergence of powerful fault lines social, political, and existential. It s a place of beauty and insanity, shared by the angelic and profane. Where cops, criminals, prodigies, and the promiscuous find themselves at the haphazard mercy of a lunatic providence.
Elysiana is both a fabulist's look at a lost time and place and a hurtling thriller. It's a tale of two types of transition the personal and the grand. All played out within the isolated magic of a barrier island.
The Last Refuge
Sam Acquillo’s at the end of the line. A middle-aged corporate dropout living in his dead parents’ ramshackle cottage in the Hamptons, Sam has abandoned his friends, family and a big-time career to sit on his porch, drink vodka and stare at the Little Peconic Bay. But when the old lady next door ends up floating dead in her bathtub it seems like Sam is the only one who wonders why. Burned-out, busted up and cynical, the ex-engineer, ex-professional boxer, ex-loving father and husband finds himself uncovering secrets no one could have imagined, least of all Sam himself. Meanwhile, a procession of quirky characters intrudes on Sam’s misanthropic ways. A beautiful banker, pot-smoking lawyer, bug-eyed fisherman and gay billionaire join a full complement of cops, thugs and local luminaries in this tale of money and murder.
All Sam wants to do is hammer a few nails into his ramshackle cottage, drink a great deal of vodka, hang out with his dog, Eddie, and stay out of trouble. But trouble seems to find him anyway. When a car bomb outside a trendy waterfront restaurant kills a prominent financial consultant and injures Sam and his lawyer friend Jackie Swaitkowski, he is drawn into the investigation. Where the police have met roadblocks, Sam makes inroads with his trademark wit, instinct and charm. Also, he just wants to know: Why would someone go to such lengths not only to kill someone, but annihilate them?
Set, once again, against the backdrop of Southhampton, Long Island, Two Time is full of moody sunsets, beachfront properties and beautiful people with an extraordinary amount of money and very dangerous secrets.
Sam Acquillo can hide in his windswept waterfront cottage all he wants. The demons of his past are going to find him. Worse, they've teamed up with some pretty nasty demons of the present, including a very determined Chief of Police whose top detective has Sam caught in the cross hairs.Part-time carpenter, full-time drinker and co-conspirator with an existential mutt named Eddie Van Halen, Sam tries to lead the simple life. But as always, fate intervenes, this time in the form of Robbie Milhouser, local builder and blundering bully who shares at least one thing with Sam; an irresistible attraction to the beautiful Amanda Anselma.Peel back the glitz and glory of the fabled Hamptons and you'll find a beautiful place filled with ugly secrets. This is Sam Acquillo's world. Moving effortlessly across the social divide with wry pal Jackie Swaitkowski and rich guy Burton Lewis, the ex-boxer, ex-corporate infighter seems doomed to straddle the thin red line between envy and love, hate and forgiveness, goodness and greed. And sometimes life and death. Only this time, the life at stake is his own.
Crazy weather, crazy artists, organized crime and digital wizardry all play a role in a murder mystery that could only happen in the Hamptons.
It’s the worst winter on record. Jackie Swaitkowski has made the transition from lackadaisical, pot-smoking real estate lawyer to obsessive, pot-smoking criminal defense attorney. And now, not only are there blizzards to contend with, her ne’re-do-well client is headed for a 1st degree murder rap.
The case pulls Jackie reluctantly back into her late-husband’s extended, and famously outrageous family. Complicating matters is a handsome journalist whose interest in Jackie exceeds the professional. Ice Cap marks the return of Jackie Swaitkowski, outlandish lawyer to the rich and criminal, by award-winning author Chris Knopf, who’s been praised by Publishers Weekly for his “hard-boiled dialogue worthy of Elmore Leonard or John D. MacDonald.”
Imagine this: You have a nice life. You love your beautiful, successful wife. You’re an easy going guy working out of your comfortable Connecticut home. The world is an interesting, pleasant place.
Then in seconds, it’s all gone.
You’re still alive, but the world thinks you’re dead. And now you have to decide. Make it official, or go after the evil that took it all away from you. Arthur Cathcart, market researcher and occasional finder of missing persons, decides to live on and fight, by doing what he knows best – figuring things out, without revealing his status as a living, breathing human being. Much easier said than done in the post-9/11 world, where everything about yourself and all the tools you need to live a modern life are an open book. How do you become a different person, how do you finance an elaborate scheme without revealing yourself? How do you force a reckoning with the worst people on earth, as a dead man?
WINNER 2013 NERO AWARD
Cries of the Lost
When market researcher Arthur Cathcart emerged from a coma and set out to track down whoever murdered his wife, the results were far from pre-ordained. Wounded and alone, grief-stricken and hiding off the grid, he thought the only mystery was who killed Florencia, and why. But the quest for justice uncovered a host of fresh mysteries, just beginning with an elaborate fraud and embezzlement scheme, complete with dummy corporations and off-shore numbered accounts.
So in place of “who killed Florencia?” he was forced to ask “who was Florencia?”
There was nothing about their lives together that answered this or any of a thousand questions she left behind. All he really knew was she came from Chile, had a knack for figures and owned her own insurance agency.
So Arthur takes off again to do what he does best: Finding stuff out.
What follows is a chase around the world, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, and remote parts north and south. No longer alone, with Natsumi Fitzgerald at his side, armed with a portfolio of false identities, hard-learned tradecraft and the continued cloak of anonymity, Cathcart plunges into the world of international terrorism and government intrigue, where the currency is betrayal and the rewards are calculated in blood and revenge.
A Billion Ways to Die
Arthur Cathcart and Natsumi Fitzgerald wanted to believe they were free of the nearly invisible, malignant forces they had pursued, and been pursued by, across continents and oceans. The slightly brain-damaged, tech freak researcher and the black-jack dealing psychologist had convinced themselves that life aboard a sail boat in the Caribbean, incognito and in love, could be a lasting refuge.
The death of that illusion was as brutal as it was abrupt. Even people who knew how to dodge ruthless outlaws and relentless law enforcement learned there were powers from which no one could ever hide.
Not in the 21st century. Not if you wanted more than to simply exist. To truly live in the world, you had to have a world that allows you to live.
Soldiers fighting in Vietnam had a saying when pinned down under enemy fire: The only way out is through. And so it is that Arthur and Natsumi take to the fight, where the full expanse of both the virtual and material world is the field of engagement. Nearly blind to the threats that surround them, yet searching for that impossible path back to the ordinary lives they’d been forced to abandon.
Wiser, stronger and more experienced than they ever imagined they’d be in the art of clandestine combat, Arthur and Natsumi understand what makes you strong can also get you killed in a hurry. That the reserves of resilience and determination aren’t limitless, that the power of intellect and craft dwindles in the face of a pitiless and resolute foe.
That there are a billion ways to die, but only one way to live.
Chris has been writing himself out of trouble since he talked a teacher into accepting a short story in lieu of an essay, and an essay in lieu of a multiple choice exam. A college professor wrote a comment on a friend’s paper that would have also applied to him: “You write well, which is good because you have very little command of the subject matter.”
To support his fiction habit he started working for PR firms. That evolved into a career as an advertising copywriter and later a creative director at Mintz & Hoke Communications Group.
His command of subject matter continues to be thin, but now more broadly based, having written technical papers for chemical engineering and bioscience companies, TV commercials for construction products, tire cleaners, banks and hospitals, radio spots for car dealers, yogurt and popsicles, and print ads for jet engines, medical insurance, valves, liquid chromatography, missiles, bicycles and casinos. To name a few.
His preferred environment involves a lot of saltwater, having summered as a youth on the Jersey Shore. He lives with his wife Mary Farrell in Connecticut and Southampton, NY, where he sets sail on the Little Peconic Bay.
“Knopf has mastered the verbal drill for tough guys in tight situations, and like Sam’s nautical know-how, his banter with imperfect strangers is a cut above the norm. This unexpected sail into danger makes for a stimulating story, providing Sam with a lot to tell the gang at the bar when he finally gets home.”
- New York Times Sunday Book Review, May, 2011