Death at the Cut

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Mac, also known as Horace McFarland, an out-of-work Chicago newspaperman now living on Cape Cod, discovers a Volkswagen submerged off the pier of a chi-chi local restaurant--Cranberry House--while bird-watching on a brilliant sunny morning. The body of a young woman is seatbelted into the passenger’s side of the front seat. Suddenly, the entire resort community of Barnstable on Cape Cod is gossiping about death and drugs and wild young people. Assigned to do a profile for THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE of Senator Dolf Bridges, an old acquaintance from Chicago days who has just tossed his hat into the ring to run for president on the Republican ticket, Mac discovers that the young woman in the morgue once worked for Senator Bridges in Washington as a typist. The plot gets even thicker when Mac learns through a gossipy television personality, that the Bridges, husband and wife, want the nomination in the worst possible way. When the senator is discovered to have once had an affair with the deceased, the pot boils over, and Mac finds himself in the middle of a full-scale political cover-up.

Douglas Kiker, as he did in his previous mystery, MURDER ON CLAM POND, has written a fast-paced and engaging mystery around the slightly overweight, broke, but doggedly determined reporter Mac McFarland. Kiker has also managed to create many memorable local characters in his seaside resort: Kate Bingham, Mac’s wealthy and attractive woman friend; Noah Simmons, the Latin-quoting local sheriff; Bascomb Midgeley, an attorney and Mac’s darts partner; as well as assorted other New England characters.

Kiker has created a wonderful character in Mac, endowing him with wit, careful insight, and humanity. DEATH AT THE CUT is not only a timely political novel but also a joy to read.