Nantucket Sawbuck by Steven Axelrod
Nantucket is known as an island of the privileged class, or so most of us think. It has its share of unique individuals, some with old money, some with new money, and some with no money at all. In Nantucket Sawbuck, author Steven Axelrod reveals scandal and intrigue behind the scenes in one of America’s most exclusive resort towns - all because of the murder of an evil tycoon named Preston Lomax.
As the story begins, Preston Lomax is making a list of all the people who want him dead, and it is a long one. Topping the list are his three sons, Daniel, Eric and Timothy, who Preston has taken great pleasure in humiliating throughout their lives. He knows they talk among themselves about the best way to kill him off and make it look like suicide. How does Preston know this? He has bugs planted in each of their apartments. Next on Preston’s list are his wife and daughter. He has cheated on his wife, Diana, with every one of her friends, all three of her sisters, two of her business partners, and a few of her support group members. His daughter, Kathleen, hates him too. He knows this because he had her psychiatric appointments taped and listened to them all. Certainly not father or husband of the year, is he? It is Kathleen who finds Preston murdered in their prestigious Nantucket mansion one early December morning, three weeks after he wrote the list.
Nantucket’s moral and honorable police chief, Henry Kennis, along with the state police, conduct the homicide investigation and uncover numerous suspects. But, Henry must be careful who he interrogates because most of the residents are big shots that have lots of important connections. His job could be at stake if he crosses the wrong person. True, Preston Lomax’s family loathed him for his abuse of them, but so did almost every islander, as well as many Wall Street tychoons. You see, Preston Lomax was in major debt and ready to default on all his business dealings by vanishing without a trace. His bags were packed and he was heading to Central America when someone beat him at his own game. It is up to Henry to unravel the mystery of who hated Preston enough to actually kill him. As you continue reading it is easy to be fooled into thinking you've solved the mystery of his death, but you haven't. Not until the end.
I thought Nantucket Sawbuck was a very well-constructed mystery. There are several interesting plot twists, and Henry Kennis uses poetry, of all things, in his police work. As Henry puts it, "poetry requires a style of thinking very similar to the deductive reasoning applied to criminal investigation … particularly at that crucial moment when logic isn’t working and a leap of intuition is required". That is only one of the many things I liked about his character, and I look forward to reading the next installment of the Henry Kennis Mysteries by this author.