Toward the end of the 19th century, some self-adoring rich men, having found a lovely island off the Georgia coast, have dedicated themselves to the unlovely idea of exclusivity. They’ve planned the Jekyl Island Club to be an off-season Newport, the winter playground of 50 multimillionaires, their chattels, and hand-picked, thoroughly vetted guests. No lesser mortals need apply. So the “company of capitalists”—rich in names like Vanderbilt, Gould, Pulitzer, and Morgan—settles in, determined at all costs to maintain this Georgia Eden in strictest privacy. But suddenly that plan threatens to come a cropper when a plutocratic corpse is discovered on a remote island path, a bullet in its heart. An unfortunate hunting accident, Morgan et al. insist, and summarily summon Sheriff John le Brun of nearby Brunswick to join in the cover-up—“because the club does not deserve stigma,” Le brun is loftily informed. The sheriff, however, is a tough old Civil War survivor who—to the collective surprise and chagrin of the fat cats—can't be pressured into calling a homicide anything but. Moreover, he has personal reasons for disenchantment with the Jekyl Island Club membership, successful though it may be. Two more murders follow in quick succession, ominous proof that someone else, someone highly motivated and extremely dangerous, shares the sheriff's dim view.
In his mystery debut, horror novelist Monahan (The Blood of the Covenant, 1995, etc.) offers a stalwart hero, an interesting tale, and generally efficient storytelling.