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Death on a Winter Stroll Review: This is an Exciting New Holiday Mystery Novel

Christmas, murder, politics, and Hollywood combine in this contemporary mystery from bestselling author Francine Mathews.


Death on a Winter Stroll 2022 book cover

No-nonsense Nantucket detective Merry Folger grapples with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and two murders as the island is overtaken by Hollywood stars and DC suits.

Nantucket Police Chief Meredith Folger is acutely conscious of the stress COVID-19 has placed on the community she loves. Although the island has proved a refuge for many during the pandemic, the cost to Nantucket has been high. Merry hopes that the Christmas Stroll, one of Nantucket’s favorite traditions, in which Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland, will lift the island’s spirits. But the arrival of a large-scale TV production, and the Secretary of State and her family, complicates matters significantly.

The TV shoot is plagued with problems from within, as a shady, power-hungry producer clashes with strong-willed actors. Across Nantucket, the Secretary’s troubled stepson keeps shaking off his security detail to visit a dilapidated house near conservation land, where an intriguing recluse guards secrets of her own. With all parties overly conscious of spending too much time in the public eye and secrets swirling around both camps, it is difficult to parse what behavior is suspicious or not—until the bodies turn up.

Now, it’s up to Merry and Detective Howie Seitz to find a connection between two seemingly unconnected murders and catch the killer. But when everyone has a motive, and half of the suspects are politicians and actors, how can Merry and Howie tell fact from fiction?

This latest installment in critically acclaimed author Francine Mathews’ Merry Folger series is an immersive escape to festive Nantucket, a poignant exploration of grief as a result of parental absence, and a delicious new mystery to keep you guessing. 


Death on a Winter Stroll Book Tour Featured Graphic
Disclosure: I received a free copy from the publisher and Austenprose PR via NetGalley. This book review is my honest opinion.

After reading Jane and the Year Without a Summer from the Jane Austen Mystery series (published under the pen name Stephanie Barron), I became a big fan of Francine Mathews.

So even though I don’t read much contemporary detective fiction (except for cozy and romance), I wanted to try Death on a Winter Stroll. It’s book seven in the Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Series, but it works as a standalone.

Thankfully, the book was a pleasant surprise. While I don’t read the genre regularly, I frequently watch mystery series – from the cozy to the gritty. I love a good intelligent mystery to solve!

This book felt like one of those shows. It has the grit and small-town feel of shows like Broadchurch or Mare of Easttown with numerous suspects. The book also has a fascinating protagonist, detective Merry Folger. There is a hint of romance too.

And with the added appeal of actors, filmmakers, and politicians as characters (and suspects), not to mention Christmas in Nantucket, it’s hard not to enjoy this fast-paced holiday read!

The characters are fleshed out, the prose from Mathews engaging, and the mystery compelling.

Now, I must warn there is some strong language in this book, and it does live in the real pandemic world, so if you’re looking for a complete escape, be aware.


Overall, Death on a Winter Stroll is an exciting, thrilling page-turner full of captivating characters and an intriguing mystery perfect for Christmas.

Content Note: The book is a contemporary read with some strong language, innuendo, and murders – although not graphically depicted. Trigger warnings: A character realistically deals with an eating disorder. And there are descriptions of assault and harassment.


Death on a Winter Stroll would work amazingly as one season of a TV series about the no-nonsense detective, Merry Folger, solving cases. I know I’d watch it!

Four corsets rating



  • Title: Death on a Winter Stroll: A Merry Folger Christmas Mystery 
  • Series: A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery (Book 7)
  • Author: Francine Mathews
  • Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery, Holiday Reading 
  • Publisher: ‎Soho Crime (November 1, 2022)
  • Length: (288) pages
  • Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 
  • ISBN: 978-1641292740


  • “This fast-moving mystery packs in a lot, but never too much, and will work for fans of coming-of-age stories, police procedurals, and romance.” —First Clue
  • “Fresh, well-wrought prose brings the setting of Nantucket to life. Mathews consistently entertains.” —Publishers Weekly
  • “Christmas and death come to Nantucket . . . Plenty of fascinating characters and myriad motives make for an exciting read.” —Kirkus Reviews 
  • “Mathews consistently places relationships at the forefront of her mysteries, and Merry’s unique blend of tenacity and humanity makes her a heroine to root for.”—USA Today bestselling author Karen Odden, author of the Inspector Corravan mysteries



Stephanie Barron/Francine Mathews headshot

Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. 

Since then, she has written thirty books, including six previous novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-SeasonDeath in Rough WaterDeath in a Mood IndigoDeath in a Cold Hard Light, Death on Nantucket, and Death on Tuckernuck) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the pen name Stephanie Barron. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.


Death on a Winter Stroll pin with book cover


By on December 2nd, 2022

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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