by Francine Mathews
When Rusty Mason turns up face down and dead in a flooded cranberry bog one foggy fall night, no one is more surprised than his younger brother Peter.
In the eyes of Nantucket Police Detective Meredith “Merry” Folger, 32, few people have more motive for murder than Peter.
The Masons were early settlers on Nantucket Island, making their first fortune from hunting whales for oil. Ever sharp at spotting the next big opportunity, they multiplied their fortunes in other industries and other places. Only Peter has come back to make a home on the island and a go of cranberry farming and sheep ranching. Rusty was found in Peter’s cranberry bog.
Rusty was as self-centered and dark-hearted as he was charismatic. Ten years earlier, he fled the country for Brazil in a cloud of scandal about insider trading that tarnished the family business. He seduced Peter’s college girl friend, wrecking Peter’s dreams, and drove their father to an early death.
For Merry, the third generation of the Folger family to go into police work — her father is Nantucket police chief, fas was her grandfather — this is a chance to prove herself by solving her first murder case. As she begins investigating, she considers the possibilities that Peter is either the prime suspect or the target.
This is a satisfying read. Author Francine Mathews creates rich characters that will make you want to come back to the books that follow in this series. Mathews is generous with the history and background of Nantucket Island, shown mainly through her characters. Despite its historic picturesqueness, the island and its present day tarnish and challenges are part of the story.
The murderer is hidden in plain view in this mystery, although the reader’s eye has plenty of alternatives to suspect as he or she turns the pages. This book has a cozy feel, created largely by its island setting, but its plot is complex and sophisticated.
The other books in the Merry Folger series are:
- DEATH IN ROUGH WATER (1995)
- DEATH IN A MOOD INDIGO (1997)
- DEATH IN A COLD HARD LIGHT (1998)
- DEATH ON NANTUCKET (2017)
About the Author: Francine Stephanie Barron Mathews (1963 – )
Francine Mathews has worked as a journalist and CIA intelligence analyst. She writes mystery and spy fiction as well as historical mysteries under the name of Stephanie Barron.
As Stephanie Barron, she created the nine-book Jane Austen mystery series. She has also written acclaimed standalone novels, including THE ALIBI CLUB, JACK 1939 and A FLAW IN THE BLOOD.
She grew up in Washington, D.C., the youngest of six sisters. She earned a degree in European history at Princeton University. She wrote for the university newspaper, which lead to jobs with The Miami Herald and The San Jose Mercury News. She studied for a master’s degree in Latin American history at Stanford University, but left to work for the CIA.
After her first book, DEATH IN THE OFF-SEASON, was published, she started writing full-time She credits John McPhee, who taught her at Princeton and author Elizabeth George as particular influences.
She lives in Evergreen, CO, with her husband, Mark, an attorney, and their two sons.