Lawrence Osborne, author of “Beautiful Animals,” loves stories of smoldering suspense involving morally twisted foreigners in exotic locales. He treads on familiar literary terrain here.
by Lawrence Osborne
Hogarth, $25, 304 pp.
The whitewashed villages, sun-baked hills and azure vistas on the Greek island of Hydra make a haunting backdrop for the deadly intrigue that unfolds in Lawrence Osborne’s excellent and timely morality tale “Beautiful Animals” (Hogarth, $25).
The story immerses us in the privileged world of well-heeled vacationers who descend on the car-free island in high season for lazy days drinking on cafe terraces and boozy nights hobnobbing in the villas of “ancient bohemians.”
But the listless and perpetually disappointed Naomi Codrington, a young Brit who’s on the island for the summer with her elitist, art-dealer father, Jimmie, and his uppity Greek wife, Phaine, isn’t having it.
We sense the tension in this family early on. Jimmie married Phaine after his first wife — and Naomi’s biological mother — died. Naomi isn’t very fond of her stepmother.
Most Read Stories
Phaine, for her part, lords a quiet suspicion over Naomi, who arrives on the island this season after losing her job at a London law firm under mysterious circumstances.
Naomi has been coming to Hydra with her family since she was a little girl, first with her late mother and Jimmie. She speaks fluent Greek and knows the rocky footpaths to secluded swimming coves as well as any of the unfailingly discreet island natives.
Lately, she has taken to venturing out in the early mornings for secret swims, soaking up the epic solitude Hydra offers to those who know its hidden nooks.
Naomi needs an escape from the sunny monotony of her parents’ social life on Hydra and she gets it in the form of a budding friendship with another young vacationer, the impressionable Samantha “Sam” Haldane, who’s visiting the island with her family.
Naomi takes the less self-assured Sam under her wing, but it will be a fraught friendship.
In a scenario stripped from today’s headlines about the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, the pair befriends a Syrian Muslim refugee named Faoud, who has washed ashore on one of Hydra’s tucked-away beaches.
Naomi, needing to redeem herself and regain a sense of purpose after losing her job, enlists Sam in a plan to help…