Compelling complexity, to be sure, but the reader already knows much of this from earlier scenes. It's almost like the non-fiction author in Pahigian wants to make absolutely sure his readers understand what's going on in his fictional characters' heads — but perhaps he could trust his audience more. Still, none of his interpretations or explanations are off-base, so this quibble is minor.

Strangers on the Beach is at its core a very self-contained thriller, leaving few loose ends in its wake. We are left with the impression that even after the Sevigny shake-up, the townies, the year-rounders, will resume their routines in short order. They will be perfectly happy to let the waves wash away the brief, if exciting, intrusion, and to relish the quiet of winter, when fewer strangers come around.

STRANGERS ON THE BEACH | by Josh Pahigian | 282 pages | Islandport Press | $22.95 | Josh Pahigian reads January 30 @ 6:30 pm at McArthur Public Library, 207 Main St, Biddeford | February 7 @ 7 pm at North Gorham Public Library, 2 Standish Neck Rd, Gorham | February 9 @ 2 pm at Thomas Memorial Library, 6 Scott Dyer Rd, Cape Elizabeth | all readings are free

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