A ruthless entrepreneur cheats everyone but death.
Preston Lomax is proud of the number of people who’d like him dead. He’s been unfaithful to his wife with all three of her sisters and many of her friends, bugged his sons’ apartments, forced his daughter Kathleen to play "Guess My Mood" all her life, used his money to barge into Nantucket society, and conspired with a local developer to break ground for a shopping mall on former conservation land. His plan to pre-empt the investigation into his shady business practices by skipping town without paying his creditors fails when he’s found dead with a four-way screwdriver in his chest just before Christmas, leaving Nantucket’s police chief, Henry Kennis, with a long list of suspects. A series of flashbacks spotlights the editor of a local paper that Lomax bankrupted, a painting contractor embroiled in blackmail with his vengeful mistress and Kathleen’s boyfriend (who’s sleeping with her mother), and Kennis’ own girlfriend. The police chief, a shrewd California native, carefully navigates the roiling currents of Nantucket society and persists, despite the danger to himself and his family, in this smart procedural.
Although shifts in chronology and point of view further complicate an already dense plot, Axelrod has a gift for characterization and a strong lead in Kennis. Nantucketers might bristle at the cynical portrait of their home, but his mystery debut gives the island as much personality as its varied inhabitants.