A Certain Summer suffers a bit from Sagging Middle Syndrome—the beginning and the end are intriguing, but the middle is just kind of eh. Set in the summer community of Wauregan off the shore of Long Island, A Certain Summer focuses on self-righteous Helen (how she infuriated me with her “don’t gossip” stance even as she gossiped), whose husband is presumed dead after an OSS mission in France during World War II, and her son. While everyone else believes Arthur is dead, Helen and Jack hold out hope he will return as there seems to be a slim possibility he’s involved with the CIA as his friend Frank is. Even so, Helen uneasily ventures into a relationship with the grandson of her next door neighbor. Peter has returned from fighting in Japan and is recovering along with war dog Max, who many in the community fear is violent. Their summer together is detailed with all sorts of minor plot points that don’t go anywhere—a man spies on a woman and her daughter, two men who are married to women may be gay, and someone else dies with her lover. It’s all inconsequential filler until A Certain Summer nears the end when Helen and Jack travel to France to, as Jack says, “pay homage” to Arthur and end up discovering that what they were told about his death was a lie.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery.