Review

The Gate House

by Nelson DeMille

Ten years ago, Susan Stanhope Sutter killed her lover, Mafia don
Frank Bellarosa. One night, she just left her estate, Stanhope
Hall, and headed across the connecting acreage to Frank’s
mansion, Alhambra, where he delivered a message that Susan took
umbrage to, so she shot him. She escaped prosecution --- and the
wrath of the don’s family --- but lost her husband, her home
and her lover all in one night. Now she has returned from a period
of self-imposed exile and has settled in the Guest Cottage of
Stanhope Hall. That may have been an unwise choice, for there are
still people in the area who carry a grudge. Like Frank’s
son.

Ethel Allard, a friend of the Stanhope family, now lay dying in
a hospice house. Because Ethel’s time is fast running out,
John Whitman Sutter, Ethel’s attorney and Susan’s
ex-husband, has returned from London, his home since that fateful
night.

In the intervening decade, John divorced his wife, sailed around
the world, left his New York law practice for one in England, and
found at least one girlfriend --- in short, imposed his own sort of
self-exile. Now back on Long Island, staying in Stanhope
Hall’s gatehouse, John reflects on the distant past and
wonders about his immediate future with an uneasy feeling.

“Time had stood still here in this gatehouse as the
changing world encroached on the walls of Stanhope Hall. In fact,
life within the walls had changed, too, and time was about to catch
up to this place and to the people who lived here, past and
present.”

As John works to wrap up Ethel’s affairs, he is painfully
aware of Susan’s close proximity. After all, they share a
driveway. Does he want to see her? More importantly, does she want
to see him? While pondering the possible answers, which may have
life-altering repercussions, Frank Bellarosa’s son Anthony
makes an unannounced visit to the gatehouse.

John isn’t too excited to see Anthony, considering that
John’s ex-wife murdered Anthony’s father, leaving
Anthony as head of the family business, which isn’t a
thriving security and limo service, unless you consider whacking
your enemies a form of security. Well, in a nutshell, the Sutters
and the Bellarosas become intertwined once again, and not because
John has any desire for mob involvement. His love for Susan has a
tendency to get in the way of good decision making, but he feels he
must protect the mother of his children. Besides, she’s as
beautiful as ever. And outrageously sexy, having discovered some
new ways to keep a relationship, shall we say, exciting.

Nelson DeMille explores the clash of the old money of the Gold
Coast with the newly rich invaders. Susan Stanhope epitomizes the
spoiled trust fund daughter while John Sutter provides the perfect
parental nightmare for the elder Stanhopes as the two fall in love
again. Their children are thrilled; why can’t the in-laws be,
too? Ah, well, maybe it’s the money. Whatever the reason,
John and Susan are the type of people one cannot help but envy,
despite the downside of a possible hit man hot on their heels.

You don’t have to read THE GOLD COAST to enjoy THE GATE
HOUSE, but why not double your fun? DeMille’s look into the
world of the rich and snobbish back in 1990 gave his readers a
chance to experience that world vicariously through his story,
leaving us all feeling a bit higher on the social scale for having
read it. His wit and humor were well-honed then, but they have had
nearly 20 years to sharpen even more --- and sharpen they have.
John Sutter, too, has had nearly two decades to sharpen his wit.
What was, at the time of THE GOLD COAST, a wry humor and a
wonderful tendency to sarcastic comebacks has become a portfolio of
laugh-out-loud parries and feints. Nobody should miss a good Nelson
DeMille book, and THE GATE HOUSE is his newest best.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011

The Gate House
by Nelson DeMille

  • Publication Date: October 28, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446533424
  • ISBN-13: 9780446533423