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Death on Nantucket
Cover of Death on Nantucket
Death on Nantucket
Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Series, Book 5
​Francine Mathews' no-nonsense Nantucket police detective, Merry Folger, is back on the case after nineteen years. ​Death on Nantucket, the fifth Merry Folger Mystery, is full of regional charm, a strong sense of local history, and foggy New England Island atmosphere.
Spencer Murphy is a national treasure. A famous Vietnam War correspondent who escaped captivity in Southeast Asia, he made a fortune off of his books and television appearances. But Spence is growing forgetful with age; he's started to wander and even fails to come home one night. When a body is discovered at Step Above, the sprawling Murphy house near Steps Beach, Nantucket police detective Meredith Folger is called in to investigate.
The timing couldn't be worse: It's the Fourth of July, and tourists are arriving in droves to celebrate on Nantucket's beaches, so the police force is spread thin. On top of that Merry is planning her wedding to cranberry farmer Peter Mason, and her new boss, an ex-Chicago police chief with an aggressive management strategy, seems to be trying to force her to quit. Merry can't conclude the Murphy investigation quickly enough for him. As she grapples with a family of unreliable storytellers—some incapable of recalling the past, and others determined that it never be known—she suspects that the truth may be forever out of reach, trapped in the failing brain of a man whose whole life may be a lie.
​Francine Mathews' no-nonsense Nantucket police detective, Merry Folger, is back on the case after nineteen years. ​Death on Nantucket, the fifth Merry Folger Mystery, is full of regional charm, a strong sense of local history, and foggy New England Island atmosphere.
Spencer Murphy is a national treasure. A famous Vietnam War correspondent who escaped captivity in Southeast Asia, he made a fortune off of his books and television appearances. But Spence is growing forgetful with age; he's started to wander and even fails to come home one night. When a body is discovered at Step Above, the sprawling Murphy house near Steps Beach, Nantucket police detective Meredith Folger is called in to investigate.
The timing couldn't be worse: It's the Fourth of July, and tourists are arriving in droves to celebrate on Nantucket's beaches, so the police force is spread thin. On top of that Merry is planning her wedding to cranberry farmer Peter Mason, and her new boss, an ex-Chicago police chief with an aggressive management strategy, seems to be trying to force her to quit. Merry can't conclude the Murphy investigation quickly enough for him. As she grapples with a family of unreliable storytellers—some incapable of recalling the past, and others determined that it never be known—she suspects that the truth may be forever out of reach, trapped in the failing brain of a man whose whole life may be a lie.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter One

    "It's absolutely perfect," Meredith Folger said as she gazed at herself in the full-length mirror. She was standing in the sunlit master bedroom of an old house built in 1821 by a man named Thomas Mason, who had captained the Leah out of Nantucket until his death in the South Pacific in 1843. The house on Cliff Road, faced with narrow white clapboards and topped with a square walk on its roof, was lapped in green lawns and hedges and buffered by opulent hydrangeas. It had come down through the centuries in the Mason family, who used it only during the summer months now. From the windows that drenched the room in sunshine, Merry could look out over the back terrace and its pergola to the wet-paint smear of the harbor, which was flooded with boat traffic on this first day of July. The expanse of Jetties Beach was clearly visible. Happy people were stretched out on its sand and kites rippled over its dunes. But Merry wasn't admiring the million-dollar view. She had eyes only for herself, and the extraordinary gown Mayling Stern had just slipped carefully over her blonde head.
    It was pale silk chiffon of a shade somewhere between cream and chartreuse that brought out the vivid green of her eyes. Mayling had cut a curvaceous column with a classically elegant bodice that framed Merry's collarbone like a Renaissance portrait. The back plunged in a low V. The hem stopped just above the ankle strap of her shoe. It was a grown-up wedding dress for a woman past thirty who had no interest in presenting herself as the heroine of a Disney fairy tale. Over the past few months, Meredith had seen every bridal salon in Boston, high-priced and low, and despaired of finding anything that was not billowing or farcical. The fashion appeared to favor voluminous skirts and jeweled bodices. She refused to speak her vows to Peter Mason across three feet of pendulous hoop, like Scarlett O'Hara, as she'd told Mayling bitterly one night over dinner at Dune.
    "Here's what you want," the designer said coolly, as she sketched red lipstick swiftly over her white napkin. "Severe. Yet timeless. Like the walls of this room."
    It was a composition of maybe five lines. A dress not for a bride, Merry thought, but a dress to get married in. She met Mayling's eyes. "Are you serious?"
    "Of course. I've always wanted to do bridal."
    "What would it . . ." She swallowed, not sure how to ask the price of a New York designer's bridal fling. Fifteen thousand dollars? Twenty? "I mean, would this be couture level?"
    "In terms of cost?" Mayling's eyes slid over to Peter, whose hand cupped Meredith's shoulder. "I thought you were marrying money. But never mind. For a friend—a friend I'm experimenting on . . . such a deal, as my father, Maury, used to say. I'll throw in the fabric at cost, as a wedding gift."
    Merry took the napkin home. She taped it to a whiteboard above her police station desk, where it hovered in her peripheral vision as she scrolled through databases. In April, she had her first fitting in Mayling's muslin model—something she hadn't expected and was unable to assess.
    But here, in the graceful light of the old and beloved house, she saw the actual gown for the first time.
    On herself.
    And she was exquisite.
    Elegant. Confident.
    Unrecognizable?
    "Hold still," Mayling said through a mouthful of pins. She pinched a miniscule amount of silk at an almost-invisible seam. Merry tried not to breathe.
    A woman's laughter drifted up from the center hallway—Georgiana Whitney, Peter's sister, who was staying in the house for the next...
About the Author-
  • Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written twenty-five books, including four previous novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-Season, Death in Rough Water, Death in a Mood Indigo, and Death in a Cold Hard Light) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the pen name Stephanie Barron. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 20, 2017
    Last seen in 1998’s Death in a Cold Hard Light, police detective Meredith “Merry” Folger is trying to finalize the details of her wedding as the Fourth of July approaches, in Mathews’s intriguing fifth mystery set on Nantucket. When a body is found on the widow’s walk of the house belonging to famed retired foreign correspondent Spencer Murphy, the hordes of summer tourists make investigating the death even more difficult for Merry. The victim, discovered weeks after her death, is identified as Nora, Spencer’s estranged daughter. Was Nora’s death an accident or murder? The dysfunctional Murphy clan and their long-held grudges against each other present Merry with multiple suspects, each with a motive. Complicating the investigation is Spencer’s dementia. A second murder leads Merry’s investigation into Spenser’s background as a journalist. Has the past finally caught up with the globe-trotting journalist? Mathews takes readers on a holiday tour with an ocean view, complete with a murder mystery as twisted as the emotions that family can evoke. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2017
    A police officer's wedding plans are complicated by a death in one of Nantucket's most prominent families.Meredith Folger, who comes from a long line of Nantucket police officers, is about to marry wealthy Peter Mason, whom she's known forever. Shortly before the happy event, her father and grandfather run into famous foreign correspondent Spence Murphy at the Wharf Rat Club and realize his memory is failing when he doesn't remember that his adopted daughter, Nora, has been staying with him at the family home. When Spence's son Elliot, and his partner, Andre Henrissaint, arrive, the housekeeper tells them Nora's been there but adds that she hasn't seen her in more than a month. Soon thereafter, McTavish, Elliot's Westie, leads them to the roof walk, where they find Nora's badly decomposed body. Spence's other son, David, a Boston attorney, brings fresh problems when he arrives with Laney, the daughter who's lived with him ever since his bitter divorce from Kate, her mother. Nora seems to have died from drinking coffee laced with apricot seeds that Laney had provided in the hopes of curing her now-deceased grandmother, who had been suffering from cancer. Was Nora's death accident, suicide, or murder? A book Nora had been writing charges that Spence invented the story of imprisonment and escape from Cambodia that made him rich and famous. David, cold and bitter, wants Laney to stay on and take care of Spence until he dies and they can sell everything to settle the estate. Elliot, who's passionate about the family home, wants to keep it but can't afford to buy out David. When Spence becomes the next victim and a new will names Kate as trustee, the family implodes, leaving Meredith the tricky job of identifying which relative turned to murder. After a long hiatus, Mathews returns to Nantucket (Death in a Cold Hard Light, 1999, etc.) with this twisty tale of family relationships gone bad.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2017

    Nineteen years after the last Merry Folger mystery (1998's Death in a Cold Hard Light), Mathews returns to her Nantucket, MA-based series with a fifth adventure. Detective Folger has a new police chief watching over her shoulder as she investigates the death of a woman only discovered on the July Fourth holiday weekend when her family returns to the island. A complex mystery involving secrets, a dysfunctional family, and Folger's own insecurities.--LH

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Death on Nantucket
Death on Nantucket
Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Series, Book 5
Francine Mathews
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