• Black Swan

  • A Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery
  • By: Chris Knopf
  • Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
  • Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (408 ratings)

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Black Swan  By  cover art

Black Swan

By: Chris Knopf
Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
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Publisher's Summary

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, New York, a distant and altogether disassociated scrap of Long Island.

A summer preserve for the oldest old money in America, it is 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 Amanda. 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.

Chris Knopf's four Sam Acquillo mysteries have received exceptional accolades, with critics likening Sam to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and Robert Parker’s Spenser, while repeatedly comparing Knopf to Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald, and Ross Macdonald. A sailor, cabinet maker, and advertising executive in Connecticut, he and his wife also spend a lot of time at their Southampton home.

©2011 Chris Knopf (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“The vivid descriptions of an angry sea and the monster storm that strikes the island fairly dwarf the human threats facing Sam and Amanda.” ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Black Swan

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A clever tale

There's a lot to like about this story by Chris Knopf. There's the "locals versus wash-ashores" conflict. A good dose of steamy sexual tension. The mysteries of brilliant minds. Man versus nature on a few levels. And a good old-fashioned mystery to unravel. One of his most satisfying reads to date.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

narrator or story? or both?

i haven't yet met a chris knopf book that i didn't like. this story - which is definitely reminiscent of Key Largo - starts out with a nautical nightmare. but it never really is explained why Sam Acquillo is drawn into to this mystery. even as it plays out, Sam himself questions his motives, but never explains the why. i've been drawn to all previous Knopf's books as his main characters and the quirky buddies that accompany him along the way are entwined at some point with the "mystery".

further, Keith Szarabajka's voice sounds to me too much like Richard Ferrone's voice (narrator of two of the more recent Acquillo audio books) so it became distracting to me as the performance sounded like Ferrone's but was not quite the same, and seemed rushed and flat. i will read/listen to it again down the road as i would prefer to give this wonderful writer a higher rating. it could just be that it was the combination of the story and the narrator made it difficult for me to engage entirely. if you are a fan, definitely don't pass this one by. if you are a first time Acquillo reader definitely start with the earlier books. And don't pass up the Jackie Swaitkowski Hamptons books. I'm listening to Bad Bird right now and it is definitely a 4 star listen.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just didn't like it

I am a big fan of Chris Knopf - Sam Acquillo and Jackie Swaikowski - but this was just an annoying book to read. at some point I realized I simply didn't care who did what and where they where when - didn't grip me. Completely different from other Acquillo books which I can't stop listening to, or reading, until they are done.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A very engaging story

If you have a computer background, you will be even more interested. However, that is not necessary to the enjoyment of the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator

The story was great. I enjoyed it. I like the first narrator better from the first couple of books.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Siperfluous

The story is good. The narrator, while ok for the male characters falls short regarding the female characters. To be fair, this is true of every book I've listened to. All narrator's thus far haven't been a true pleasure to listen to.

Now to address my comment in the title of this review. While I enjoy the book overall, the author gets carried away with the use of his extensive vocabulary. Sorry Mr. Knoff, but there is a negative take away when I spend a ridiculous amount of time consulting my dictionary. I applaud your knowledge, but not your use of said vocabulary in your books. I've kept this opinion to myself in my critique of the books I've listened to prior to this one. I assigned the "stars" and left it at that without writing a review. While not being satisfied with narration or the generous use of "big words", I took it in stride and moved on. I may be in the minority, but I believe the :average Joe" may not know the meaning of many of your words. By the end of the book I've moved from being impressed by your vocabulary, to annoyance. Is your intention to "wow" your audience? I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual with a fairly good command of the Engish language, but I become overwhelmed, especially in this book. Try to think of your readers. Admittedly, many don't have an issue with you spewing out a lot of words that are lost on many readers, but I'm one of those who become befuddled as my list of words to look up in the dictionary grows. While I enjoy learning new words. it takes away from my overall enjoyment of the story. My effort to kick back and relax is overshadowed by need to get the gist by the use of the word, thus anxiety mounts while enjoyment decrease. perhaps I'd like you to "dumb it down" for the likes of me and those like me; thereby, I find your use of college level vocabulary superfluous.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing.

This was one of the best. Can’t sit until I can afford another. Great read.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • ER
  • 08-21-22

A+

After Hard Stop I was worried the series may have lost its steam... Black Swan proved me very wrong.

LOVED every second of this book. THANK YOU Chris Knopf!!! What a great gift to thriller, mystery, and detective books. It's like a Hitchcock and Maxwell Anderson in one story... Brings back the film noir in a book!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Fits in the series

I loved this character and series when I first discovered it. The novelty is gone, but it's still competent and engaging storytelling

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I found this book boring. The narration was poor as the accents terrible. Hopefully the next book is this series will be more entertaining.