TV scriptwriter and playwright Maness's first novel reads more like a high-concept Hollywood shoot-'em-up than a traditional mystery. With a damsel in distress saved by a tough-guy hero with a dog, how bad could it be? A man known only as William is threatening revenge on the people of Nantucket in general, and on marina manager Gloria Gorham in particular. He begins with small acts of sabotage but raises the ante by murdering a banker and leaving his body pinned to a dock piling with a harpoon. That's enough for Gloria, who calls in PI Jake Eaton and his faithful dog, Watson. As William's killing spree continues, Eaton searches Nantucket's rich nautical history for some clue to William's motivation, finding it in an 18th-century dispute. The speed picks up as the novel moves from crime to inevitably larger crime, ending with the entire harbor town of Nantucket in danger of going up in flames. The characters are typically flat, and the arrogant Gloria is barely worthy of Eaton's efforts to save her. But Maness captures Nantucket and its social stratification well in this rollicking and cleanly plotted escapist tale. (Nov.)
In this debut novel, Gloria Gorhan, who manages her wealthy father's Nantucket marina, struggles against the onslaught of a psychotic killer. Gloria is forced to hire private investigator Jake Eaton after threatening letters and a bomb scare lead to the grusome murder of a Nantucket Preservation society board member. Eaton risks life and limb, as well as Gloria's temper, to ferret out the devilish killer, whose malevolence is attributed to old family feuds. Maness uses Nantucket's usual fishing and development problems as a backdrop for a clever hero and a sly bad guy. For most collections.