The Gate House Review
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Ten years ago, John Sutter’s whole world came crashing down around him when the police arrived at his door to inform him that his wife, socialite Susan Stanhope Sutter, had just murdered their neighbor—and her former lover—Mafia don Frank Bellarosa.

After Susan got off scot-free, John decided that it was time for him to leave Long Island’s Gold Coast behind—so he climbed aboard his boat and spent the next three years sailing around the world.

Now, after living in London for seven years, John returns to settle the estate of a family friend. He moves back into the gate house on the old Stanhope estate, only to find that Susan, too, has returned home. To make matters even worse, right next door, in a posh neighborhood where Don Bellarosa’s Alhambra once stood, lives Anthony Bellarosa—Frank’s son and the heir to the family business.

Convinced that Anthony’s looking for revenge, John finds himself back in a familiar—but dangerous—place, getting close to the new don to try to save his ex-wife’s life.

The Gate House is the long awaited sequel to DeMille’s beloved novel The Gold Coast, which was published almost two decades ago. If you haven’t read The Gold Coast, however (or if you read it so long ago that you barely remember it anymore), don’t let that scare you away from the sequel—because DeMille covers the back story so thoroughly that you’ll have no problem keeping up. And instead of starting the book with a long, droning recap, he explains the story gradually, in bite-sized pieces—recapping the story for fans of The Gold Coast while helping new readers get to know the characters and their sordid past.

Since I’m a sucker for a good Mafia story, I was intrigued by the Bellarosa family. Though I haven’t read The Gold Coast, DeMille does an excellent job of showing how things have changed for the Bellarosa family (and for the organization) since Frank’s empire came crashing down. Anthony isn’t the picture of wealth and power that his father once was; in fact, he’s little more than a bully in a nice suit, living in a McMansion. He’s angry and bitter, and he’s out for revenge—and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d come up with next.

Unfortunately, though, the fascinating (and suspenseful) parts of the story are often pushed to the background, in favor of the Sutter family drama. At times, I’ll admit, the family does make for a fun read—especially when John’s tree-hugging mother or his evil in-laws make an appearance. DeMille writes these quirky characters with a great sense of humor, and I often surprised myself by laughing out loud at his descriptions.

At other times, though, I found myself wishing that Anthony Bellarosa would show up and wreak some havoc. The story often gets bogged down in John and Susan’s relationship (and the unnecessary details of their sex life). And since the relationship is hard to believe—as John goes from trying to restrain his bitter, seething hatred of his ex to professing his undying love for her in the span of about an hour—it means that the main foundation of the novel is pretty shaky. So when it all comes to its stomach-turning (and extremely convenient) conclusion, it all feels a bit weak.

Though the characters in The Gate House are fascinating—and often highly entertaining—the story seems out of balance. As a result, while fans of The Gold Coast might enjoy catching up with the characters—and new readers might find them interesting, too—I recommend thinking twice before picking up a copy of this massive tome.

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