Death on Nantucket (Merry Folger / Nantucket)
by Francine Mathews
Cover Artist: Cory Hazelgrove
Review by Gayle Surrette
Soho Crime Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616957377
Date: 06 June 2017 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Nantucket is gearing up for the 4th of July when the beaches will be filled with young people who will arrive ready to party hard. Merry Folger, a detective in the local police department, is not looking forward to the holiday. She's got her wedding to Peter Mason to plan, a full work schedule, a new boss who doesn't seem to like anyone, and a suspicious death at Step Above, the home of Spencer Murphy.
Spencer Murphy is a local, a famous war correspondent who escaped captivity during the Vietnam War. He made a lot of money off his books and later writings, so a body found at his home is going to be news. The fact that the body is of his adopted daughter adds to the news value. There's also the problem that Spencer Murphy is getting more and more forgetful and confused, and maybe suffering from Alzheimer's.
Elliot Murphy, Spencer's son, and Elliot's partner Andre Henrissaint found the body on the roof of Step Above. Shortly after, the rest of the family--David Murphy, David's daughter Laney, and David's ex-wife Kate Murphy--all arrive at Step Above. The family infighting, resentments, and efforts to control the narrative don't make for a convivial atmosphere.
Merry has enough problems just trying to identify the cause of death, separate the various family relationships into those that could supply motive or opportunity, and keep her boss from closing the case prematurely since she suspects that there is more going on than meets the eye.
Mathews definitely has the feel of a small tourist town, at the height of the season, and a small police force, so fully realized that it adds more tension and pressure on Merry to see that procedure is followed and that the path of least resistance is not taken so that justice is done. There are several people with motive and opportunity, so add in some red herrings and the pages just keep turning until you find out who did it and why.