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The Gate House    by Nelson deMille order for
Gate House
by Nelson deMille
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Gate House, the long-awaited sequel to Nelson DeMille's The Gold Coast, takes the same approach of a long, slow build-up of suspense, leading to an explosive ending. It's narrated by ex-Wall Street tax lawyer John Sutter, who's returned to the North Shore of Long Island after a long self-imposed exile, first in a three year sailboat journey around the world, and then working in London.

What sent him away from his beloved wife, Susan Stanhope, and their son and daughter, Edward and Carolyn? Despite repeated warnings from FBI agent Felix Mancuso, a bored Sutter acted foolishly in The Gold Coast, befriending and doing legal work for his neighbor, Mafia don Frank Bellarosa. Sutter saved Bellarosa's life and collected on the debt, leading to Susan (who was also playing with fire as the mobster's lover) shooting and killing Frank. Though 'the Justice Department took a dive on the case', John divorced Susan and left the country.

Now, ten years later, and nine months after 9/11, Sutter has been summoned back to handle the legal affairs of a dying Stanhope retainer, Ethel Allard. Ethel is in hospice care and Sutter is staying in her Gate House home. Stanhope Hall has been bought by an Iranian gentleman named Amir Nasim, who seems to have serious security concerns, and Susan Stanhope is living - much too close for her ex's comfort - in their old family home, the large estate guest cottage of a Long Island location where once 'You couldn't throw a stone without hitting a billionaire.'

John Sutter is hoping to 'reconcile the past with the present' and come to terms with his ex-wife's betrayal. What he didn't count on was being courted once more by the mob, this time in the person of Frank Bellarosa's psychopathic son Anthony. They have several meetings, with John trying to assess whether Tony - who's vying with his uncle Salvatore for control of the organization - is an imminent threat to Susan. Despite all that's happened, John still has feelings for her, and she is the mother of his children.

As with all deMille characters, John Sutter has attitude to spare. While this adds to an entertaining read, it also makes him enemies - from his insufferable prick of a father-in-law to country club snobs and mafia goons. Our hero works at 'keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer', while readers wonder whether or not John and Susan will get back together, and what Anthony Bellarosa's game plan really is. Nelson deMille's multitude of fans will not want to miss The Gate House.

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