Friday, December 9, 2022

Review: Death on a Winter Stroll by Francine Mathews

I am newish to the mystery genre so I had never read a Francine Mathews novel before. Diving into this 7th in the Merry Folger series was delightful and easy and now I'll have to go back and start at the beginning!

Merry Folger is the chief of police on Nantucket. With Covid lockdowns in the past, Christmas time on the island is busier than ever. The President and his family have just left and Merry is anticipating a quieter stretch despite the fact that a bunch of high profile Hollywood actors are filming a new series on the island, the Secretary of State and her family are visiting for the weekend, and the annual Christmas Stroll is about to happen. Unfortunately for Merry, right after the Stroll, the first body is discovered. And then there's a second victim killed in the same manner. But what could possibly connect a quiet recluse living in a supposedly abandoned home with one of the Hollywood people?

Mathews has drawn a varied cast of characters, some sympathetic and others a lot less so. Ansel, the Secretary of State's stepson, is a recovering drug addict who is trying to move forward with his life. Winter, the beautiful and troubled daughter of a famous Hollywood actor, is fighting to keep from relapsing into anorexia. They meet on the island and instantly identify with each other and their respective struggles. Both Ance and Winter's overprotective fathers love, worry, and want the best for their children although they react to their children in quite different ways, hardly daring to trust them and their fragile recoveries. Then these two young people trying so hard to find their respective ways in the world find themselves smack in the middle of the murder investigations.

Merry and Detective Seitz know that the two murders have to be connected but they are having trouble figuring out how. The first victim had few enemies while the second had no shortage of people who could have wanted him dead. The investigation is patient as Mathews slowly draws the reader to a surprising but perfect conclusion. Her depiction of Nantucket is gorgeously rendered and the Christmas Stroll is a charming tradition. The scenes of nature photography are well done technically and also quite visual so the reader can see in their mind's eye the winter birds that come to the island. The mystery is intriguing but so are the relationships between the major players. The characters are flawed and realistic and the way that the separate worlds of Hollywood and Washington come together, via Ance and Winter, works well. All in all, a fun and seasonally appropriate book that kept me guessing and left me happy to have read it.

For more information about Francine Mathews and the book, visit her author page, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, look at the book's Goodreads page, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Laurel Ann from Austenprose and publisher Soho Crime for sending me a copy of the book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kristen. Wishing you a lovely holiday season.


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