Jun 1, 1997

The Trouble with a Hot Summer

The Trouble with a Hot Summer
A Simona Griffo Mystery
by Camilla T. Crespi
June 1997, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-017662-8

Where I Get My Ideas

I was staying at a friend's cottage out in East Hampton. Looking out of her picture window in the very early morning I saw a man row across the window's view. An hour later I saw him row back into view. When I asked my friend about him, she explained he had suffered a heart attack and rowed for exercise every morning without fail. Intrigued by the words "without fail" I watched him the next morning and wondered, what if he doesn't come back?


Long Island -- East Hampton, Springs, South Hampton hospital, Sag Harbor.
New York City -- Upper West Side, Union Square, Greenwich Village.

Simona is at the end of a troubled vacation with Stan and Willy in the Hamptons when she shares iced coffee and a foggy dawn with Springs resident and advertising genius, Bud Warren. Mistaking Simona for a licensed P.I., thanks to the maneuverings of Simona's friend Dmitri, Bud asks Simona to investigate his ex-wife's death from drowning exactly one year ago. Bud swears it was murder even though the police decreed suicide. There's a heat wave going on and Simona agrees to meet Bud that evening in the cool waters of Gardiner's Bay to discuss the matter further. The only problem is that Bud never comes back from his morning row.

Recurring Characters

* Stan and Willy Greenhouse
* Dmitri K.
* Raf Garcia, Stan's partner
* Gregory Price, Simona's co-worker


Publishers Weekly
Crespi softens the dark edges of her mystery with deft humor, allowing Simona to enjoy the Hamptons' hot spots, rub elbows with celebs and entertain a mild flirtation with the owner of a trendy restaurant. The mix of breezy vacation fun and somber matters of death, passion and art provides the tension needed to make this a sultry summer read.

Mostly Murder
A brisk mystery and a fun read and Camilla Crespi is one hot writer.

Mystery News
For well-knit stories told in a humorous vein Crespi is right up there with today's best.

The Boston Sunday Globe
The dialogue is lively, the mystery reasonably mysterious, and the sense of place is appealing.

The Beginning

That magical light that enticed countless artists was gone. Gardiner's Bay, twenty feet ahead, had disappeared during the night like Brigadoon. The white windmill of Gardiner's Island across the bay had turned into a memory. It was an August Sunday in Springs, a hamlet just north of East Hampton on Long Island, New York. At 6:03 AM the temperature was seventy-four degrees. The sun a white blister wrapped in gray gauze. Depending on your mood, the fog was dreary, romantic or scary.

Bud Warren was unusually talkative. "The ugly cliché. Greed and vanity destroying nature's beauty." He wiped his forehead with a tanned, gnarled hand. "When I first came out here in '56, the place was still unspoiled." Bud poured coffee. "This heat we've been getting? Man-made. Ozone layer's thinner than a Park Avenue wife."

The Hamptons was expected to reach ninety-three for the fourth day in a row. New York City, one hundred again. This was the third morning Bud and I met at this hour. We'd mostly stared at the water's edge and the fog beyond.


Recipe -- Cool Pasta

Serves four

* 4 ears of corn
* 4 large ripe tomatoes
* 2 bunches scallions
* 4 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 cup loosley packed basil leaves
* 5 large fresh mint leaves
* 1 lb. pasta shells
* salt and pepper to taste

Cut corn off the cobs with a serrated knife. Reserve the cobs. Seed and dice the tomatoes. Trim and thinly slice the scallions, including the light green part.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the scallions and sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes. Mix in corn. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and season vegetables well with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes more.

Tear basil and mint leaves. Remove skillet from heat and add leaves. Allow the vegetables to cool in a large serving bowl.

Add the reserved cobs to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta shells.

When shells are al dente (approx. 12 mins), drain and remove cobs. Add pasta to vegetables in bowl. Mix well, check for seasoning, and serve.

Buon appetito!