A second Nantucket-based story featuring Merry Folger, detective on the tiny island police force headed by her father, John (Death in the Off-Season, 1994). Merry's childhood friend Del Duarte, mother of out-of-wedlock toddler Sara, has returned to the island for the funeral of her father Joe, a fisherman accidentally killed aboard his boat during a storm. Del would never reveal the identity of her child's father and has been estranged from Joe for years. Still, she's shocked to find he's left his two valuable boats to boorish Jackie Alcantrara, who'd crewed for him on the fatal voyage. Merry begins to explore Del's suspicion of foul play but is soon sidetracked by a monster arson fire at the town pier, resulting in the shooting death of hard-working marine superintendent Mitch Davis, supposedly killed by a crazed boat- owner unseen in the smoke and confusion. On the heels of this disaster comes the discovery of Del's murdered body, killed by a harpoon thrust, amid clues that point to quiet Jenny Baldwin, wife of rich, ambitious contractor Tom and once Del's employer. It's all more than enough to keep Merry's mind off her turbulent feelings for attractive landowner Peter Mason, and her dogged persistence pays off, uncovering a complex web of deceit, resentment, and greed. Refreshing island atmosphere, believable villainy, and down- to-earth sleuthingall combine with a protagonist whose vulnerability sets her apart from her hard-shelled sisters in the genre.
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