Death on a Winter Stroll
No-nonsense Nantucket detective Merry Folger grapples with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and two murders as the island is overtaken by Hollywood stars and DC suits.
Nantucket Police Chief Meredith Folger is acutely conscious of the stress COVID-19 has placed on the community she loves. Although the island has proved a refuge for many during the pandemic, the cost to Nantucket has been high. Merry hopes that the Christmas Stroll, one of Nantucket’s favorite traditions, in which Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland, will lift the island’s spirits. But the arrival of a large-scale TV production, and the Secretary of State and her family, complicates matters significantly.
The TV shoot is plagued with problems from within, as a shady, power-hungry producer clashes with strong-willed actors. Across Nantucket, the Secretary’s troubled stepson keeps shaking off his security detail to visit a dilapidated house near conservation land, where an intriguing recluse guards secrets of her own. With all parties overly conscious of spending too much time in the public eye and secrets swirling around both camps, it is difficult to parse what behavior is suspicious or not—until the bodies turn up.
Now, it’s up to Merry and Detective Howie Seitz to find a connection between two seemingly unconnected murders and catch the killer. But when everyone has a motive, and half of the suspects are politicians and actors, how can Merry and Howie tell fact from fiction?
This latest installment in critically acclaimed author Francine Mathews’s Merry Folger series is an immersive escape to festive Nantucket, a poignant exploration of grief as a result of parental absence, and a delicious new mystery to keep you guessing.
In December, Nantucket would be desolate and bleak, except for the Christmas Stroll event—the first since Covid began—which lends the town a festive air in Mathews's knotty seventh Merry Folger mystery (after 2020's Death on Tuckernuck). Two disparate groups arrive on the island: the Secretary of State and her family, and a cast and crew filming a murder mystery TV show. Merry, recently promoted to police chief, is tasked with assisting the security detail for Madam Secretary and keeping the Stroll running smoothly. When two dead bodies are found, Merry and Howie Seitz, recently promoted to Merry's old detective job, must uncover the web of connections among the murder victims, the many visitors, and island denizens, including a National Geographic photographer-naturalist. The solve depends on a fairly simple, conventional clue, but many of the character motivations are both complex and coherent. The Secretary's seemingly feckless stepson befriends the TV star's daughter, and their tender, genuine relationship steals the emotional show. Fresh, well-wrought prose brings the setting of Nantucket to life. Mathews consistently entertains.