Somebody is out to get Gloria Gorham, somebody named William--that's how he signs his letters cackling over the millionaire daughter's imminent demise--and he's not too crazy about Nantucket Island either. Shortly after dawn on July 1, Jake Eaton, the Cambridge shamus Gloria's called in to find out who William is and what he's got against her, realizes that William plans a rootin'-tootin' fireworks show shortly after midnight on the Fourth, with either the island's waterfront or its downtown as fuel. Against lesser opposition, William has already closed down the Nantucket airport, run the local ferry aground, and threatened to shut down all transportation off the island. Can Jake decipher the clues left by William's macabre trail of corpses--a harpooned bank president, the town drunk lost at sea (except for his amputated arm), a speargunned dock manager--and overcome the obligatory opposition both of the island fathers and of his own imperious client in time to dope out William's incredible motivation and head off the bonfire of the vanities? Playwright Maness's first novel provides all the thrills of watching a demented supervillain doing what he does best. But it may be hard to care whether the stock heroes foil his nefarious plans unless you already have a stake in Nantucket yourself.