Excerpt from The Beach House by James Patterson, Peter de Jonge, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Beach House

by James Patterson, Peter de Jonge

The Beach House
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2002, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2003, 368 pages

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Prologue
PETER RABBIT
1

IT'S LIKE DANCING SITTING DOWN. Squeeze -- tap -- release -- twist. Left hand -- right foot -- left hand -- right hand.

Everything unfolds in perfect sequence and rhythm, and every time I twist back the heated, gummy, rubber-covered throttle, the brand-new, barely broke in, 628-pound, 130- horsepower BMW K1200 motorcycle leaps forward like a thoroughbred under the whip.

And another snapshot of overpriced Long Island real estate blurs by.

It's Thursday night, Memorial Day weekend, fifteen minutes from the start of the first party in what promises to be another glorious season in the Hamptons. And not just any party. The party. The intimate $200,000 get-together thrown every year by Barry Neubauer and his wife, Campion, at their $40 million beach house in Amagansett.

And I'm late.

I toe it down to fourth gear, yank the throttle back again, and now I'm really flying. Parting traffic on Route 27 like Moses on a Beemer.

My knees are pressed tight against the sleek, midnight blue gas tank, my head tucked so low out of the wind that it's almost between them.

It's a good thing this little ten-mile stretch between Montauk and Amagansett is as straight and flat as a drag strip, because by the time I pass those tourist clip joints -- Cyril's, the Clam Bar, and LUNCH -- the needle's pointing at ninety.

It's also a good thing I used to be in the same homeroom as Billy Belnap. As the most belligerent juvenile delinquent at East Hampton High, Billy was a lock to end up on the payroll of the East Hampton Police Department. Even though I can't see him, I know he's there, tucked behind the bushes in his blue-and-white squad car, trolling for speeders and polishing off a bag of Dressen's doughnuts.

I flick him my brights as I rip by.

 

2

YOU WOULDN'T THINK a motorcycle is a place for quiet reflection. And as a rule, I don't go in for much of it anyway, preferring to leave the navel gazing for big brother Jack, the Ivy League law student. But lately I've been dredging up something different every time I get on the bike. Maybe it's the fact that on a motorcycle, it's just you and your head.

Or maybe it's got nothing to do with the bike, and I'm just getting old.

I'm sorry to have to confess, I turned twenty-one yesterday. Whatever the reason, I'm slaloming through bloated SUVs at ninety miles per hour and I start to think about growing up out here, about being a townie in one of the richest zip codes on earth.

A mile away on the Bluff, I can already see the party lights of the Neubauer compound beaming into the perfect East End night, and I experience that juiced-up feeling of anticipation I always get at the beginning of another Hamptons summer.

The air itself, carrying a salty whiff of high tide and sweet hyacinth, is ripe with possibility. A sentry in a white suit gives me a toothy grin and waves me through the cast-iron gates.

I wish I could tell you that the whole place is kind of tacky and crass and overreaching, but in fact it's quite understated. Every once in a while, the rich will confuse you that way. It's the kind of parcel that, as real estate brokers put it, comes on the market every couple of decades -- twelve beautifully landscaped acres full of hedges and hidden gardens sloping to a pristine, white sand beach.

At the end of the white-pebble driveway is a 14,000- square-foot shingled mansion with ocean views from every room except, of course, the wine cellar.

Tonight's party is relatively small -- fewer than 180 people -- but everyone who matters this season is here. It's themed around Neubauer's just-announced $1.4 billion takeover of Swedish toymaker Bjorn Boontaag. That's why the party's on Thursday this year, and only the Neubauers could get away with it.

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