The third Merry Folger Nantucket mystery
Word travels fast in Nantucket when two children and their dog discover a skeleton in the dunes of the cold Sconset beach. Could the dead woman be the latest victim of the serial killer who has been terrorizing mainland Massachusetts? The FBI seems to think so and sends their forensic psychiatrist to the scene. But Police Detective Merry Folger has her own suspicions, and starts looking into a cold case that has long baffled Nantucket police: the disappearance of a beautiful Harvard-educated psychiatrist seven years ago. When Merry starts inquiring into the tenuous leads in that long-cold case, she stumbles into a web of violent passions and buried crimes, a web that continues to ensnare victims. Two more women are murdered, giving fuel to the FBI’s quest for a serial killer. But Merry, well-aware of the tangled histories of some of the island’s longtime residents, is convinced the only way forward is digging deeper into the past.
A dog that digs up a skeleton on a beach starts an investigation that reveals a series of homicides and adulterous liaisons in the latest cast for Nantucket Police Detective Meredith Folger (Death in Rough Water, 1995). In the process, Merry is caught in a jurisdictional squabble involving her department, state police and the FBI. Forensic psychiatrist Tucker Enright hopes to find a link to serial murders the state cops and FBI are jointly investigating. But the skeleton is that of Dr. Elizabeth Osborne, who vanished from Nantucket eight years earlier during an affair with sculptor Ian Markham, who also vanished. It was Markham's children and their dog, living on Nantucket with their embittered mother, Julia, who discovered the skeleton. Delving into the past, the earnest Merry instinctively suspects the dead woman's husband, Harvard law professor Jack Osborne. Then Enright links the shocking murder of a Nantucket schoolteacher, Roxanne Teasdale, to the serial killer. And the cases begin to mesh as it's learned that Roxanne was having an affair with Jack Osborne. Although Enright and FBI investigator Dana Stevens admonish Merry to distance herself from her work, her commitment to the victims is justified in a slam-bang finale that baits and switches the reader before identifying the real murderer. FYI: Writing as Stephanie Barron, Matthews is also author of the Jane Austen mystery series.