It's been nineteen years since Francine Mathews took us into Merry Folger's life on Nantucket. Nineteen years! Most mystery lovers probably never read, or forgot about this intriguing series featuring a female police officer following in the steps of her father and grandfather on her home island. She's back in Death on Nantucket, a complex story of death. Maybe suicide? Maybe murder? Who knows? It's Merry's job to learn the truth.
While Merry prepares for her wedding to a fellow resident of Nantucket, she also has to juggle a complicated crime scene at the home of a once-famous journalist. Spence Murphy was once a hero, a man who wrote about his escape from Laos after the Vietnam conflict ended. The adventurer and journalist adopted a young girl from Laos, Nora. Now, Spence is in the early stages of dementia, and, at times, doesn't even know that Nora returned to Nantucket after a ten year absence, and then disappeared. It's only when Spence's family arrives for the 4th of July celebration, and the dog discovers Nora's body, that the rest of the family even knew she had been there.
Merry's new boss, the first police chief in generations that is not a Folger or an islander, pushes her for a quick resolution to the case. As Merry meets with Spence's sons, and other family members, she realizes this case isn't as open-and-shut as it appears. David, the oldest son, is described as casually cruel, joyless, and incapable of empathy. Elliot and his partner are excited about the possibilities if they inherit the house. David's daughter is needy, wanting love, while living with a father who is incapable of showing affection. And, why is David's ex-wife in the house? The family struggles with Spence's dementia, knowing he's quite rational at one moment, and doesn't know them the next. Merry deals with all these personalities, looking for answers. Then, another family member dies.
Mathews' latest mystery is a story of a dysfunctional family with multiple secrets. It's a story for those of us who appreciate fascinating characters, with all of their impulses and emotions. Merry herself has always been insecure about her role following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. She's still insecure, with a new boss putting pressure on her. There's resentment towards the new police chief, and thoughts of quitting. Despite her own feelings of inadequacy, though, Merry Folger patiently gathers the threads that weave together in this engrossing story.
Will Death on Nantucket mark the last appearance of Merry Folger? Let's hope not. And, I hope we don't have to wait nineteen years to follow along in her next investigation.
Francine Mathews' website is www.francinemathews.com
Death on Nantucket by Francine Mathews. Soho Crime. 2017. ISBN 9781616957377 (hardcover), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received this book to review for a journal.