Author Steven Axxelrod, Poisoned Pen Press and Partners
in Crime blog Tours have been incredibly generous. In
addition to a copy of Nantucket Five-Spot in exchange
for a review I’m able to offer you a giveaway of a
BOX of Poisoned Pen Press books through the Rafflecopter
below. Also, leave a comment on this post and
you’ll be entered to win a copy of Nantucket
Five-Spot. TWO giveaways in one day. It doesn’t
get any better than that!
by Steven Axelrod
on Tour March 1-31, 2015
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: Jan 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 296
Henry Kennis, Nantucket island’s poetry-writing
police chief who will remind readers of Robert B.
Parker’s Jesse Stone and Spenser, works a second
challenging case in Nantucket Five-Spot.
At the height of the summer tourist season, a threat to
bomb the annual Boston Pops Concert could destroy the
island’s economy, along with its cachet as a safe,
if mostly summer-time, haven for America’s ruling
class. The threat of terrorism brings The Department of
Homeland Security to the island, along with prospects
for a rekindled love affair –Henry’s lost
love works for the DHS now.
The “terrorism” aspects of the attack prove
to be a red herring. The truth lies much closer to home.
At first suspicion falls on local carpenter Billy
Delavane, but Henry investigates the case and proves
that Billy is being framed. Then it turns out that
Henry’s new suspect is also being framed
–for the bizarre and almost undetectable crime of
framing someone else. Every piece of evidence works
three ways in the investigation of a crime rooted in
betrayed friendship, infidelity, and the quiet poisonous
feuds of small town life. Henry traces the origin of the
attacks back almost twenty years and uncovers an
obsessive revenge conspiracy that he must unravel
–now alone, discredited and on the run
–before further disaster strikes.
Read an excerpt:
Finally, I was having dinner alone with Franny Tate. It
was a mild summer night, we were dining at Cru,
overlooking Nantucket harbor. I was leaning across the
table to kiss her when the first bomb went off.
A hole punched into the air, a muffled thump that
bypassed my ears and smacked straight into my stomach,
like those ominous fireworks that flash once and leave
no sparks. The blast wave hit a second later, shaking
tables and knocking over glasses, rattling windows in
their frames. Franny mouthed the word
‘bomb,’ her lips parting in silence and
pressing together again, not wanting to say the word
aloud, or thinking I couldn’t hear her through the
veil of trembling air.
I pushed my chair back, pointing toward the Steamboat
Wharf. We ran out into a night tattered by running feet
Our romantic evening lay across the stained tablecloth
behind us, tipped over and shattered with the restaurant
Something bad had arrived on my little island, an evil
alert, a violation and a threat like a dog with its
throat cut dropped on a front parlor rug. It was up to
me and my officers to answer that threat, to make sense
of it and set things right. I didn’t explain this
to Franny. I didn’t need to. She was running right
At that point, I thought it all began with the first
bomb threat, two weeks earlier, but I wasn’t even
close. It takes a long time to make a bomb from scratch.
Lighting the fuse is the quick part.
I can tell you the exact moment when the match touched
the cord, though.
It was a bright humid morning in June. An
eleven-year-old girl named Deborah Garrison stepped off
the boat from Hyannis and skipped ahead of her mother
down into the crowded seaside streets. As it happened, I
was at the Steamship Authority that morning, picking up
my assistant chief, Haden Krakauer. We actually saw
Debbie in her pony tails and Justin Bieber t-shirt.
She didn’t seem special, just another adorable
little girl on a holiday island crowded with them.
And Debbie didn’t actually do anything. Nothing
that happened later was her fault. The simple,
irreducible fact of her presence was enough. Even years
later, the consequences and implications of
Debbie’s arrival seem bizarre and implausible, far
too weighty to balance on those thin sunburned
It was like setting off an avalanche with a sigh.
The next time I saw Debbie, it was a week later and she
was holding hands with my friend Billy Delavane when he
came to the station to report a stolen wallet.
She’d been tagging along with him everywhere,
since the day she came to Nantucket. They had met in the
surf at Madaket when he pulled her out of the white
water after a bad wipeout.
“She’d launch on anything, but she kept
slipping,” Billy told me later. “She
couldn’t figure it out. No one told her she had to
wax the board.”
She was happy to let Billy get everything organized and
push her into some smaller waves and even happier to
share a cup of hot chocolate with a few other kids at
Billy’s beach shack when hypothermia set in.
They’d been inseparable ever since.
Barnaby Toll took Billy’s stolen property report
and then buzzed my office. He knew I’d be pleased
that Billy had shown up at “Valhalla” as he
liked to call it. Billy had been one of the more vocal
opponents of the new police station, dragging himself to
several Town Meetings and fidgeting through all the
boring warrant articles to take his stand against the
giant new facility on Fairgrounds Road.
I understood his point. I had been against the
construction myself, initially. But, like driving in a
luxury car or eating at good restaurants, I adapted to
the change shockingly fast. Now I couldn’t imagine
working in the cramped crumbling building on South Water
I found the two downstairs in the administration
Billy tilted his head as I walked in. “Nice place.
Lots of parking.
In America, where nothing else matters.”
I ignored him, looking down. “Who’s
Debbie spoke up without waiting for him. I liked
“Debbie Garrison.” She extended her hand and
I tipped down a little to shake it.
“Police Chief Henry Kennis.”
“Glad to meet you, Chief Kennis. Can I have a
tour? I think this place is awesome.”
“Absolutely. How old are you?”
“Eleven,” Billy volunteered.
“I’ll be twelve in September,” Debbie
“That’s my son’s age,” I said.
“You should meet him.”
“Most eleven-year-old boys are extremely
I let that one go and offered Debbie my arm.
“Yay!” She grabbed my hand and led me into
“Can we see the jail cells?”
The place was buzzing on a June morning. We had Girl
Scouts gathering in the selectman’s meeting room
and people milling in the front lobby, complaining about
the neighbors’ noise violations and picking up
over-sand stickers. Last night’s DUIs, the
unlicensed, uninsured, or unregistered drivers (a couple
of them always hit the trifecta).
On the way down to the booking room I asked Debbie what
she thought so far.
“Well, the upstairs where we came in reminds me of
a mall. That hole in the ceiling where you can see up to
the second floor? I was like—is there a GAP store
up there? This part is more like my school. But
“Well, it’s new.”
“New is good,” she announced decisively and
I thought,you’ve come to the right place.
“So are you spending a lot of time with
Billy?” We pushed through into the booking room.
It was crowded, phones were ringing. A bald geezer who
looked like he was constructed out of sinew and tattoo
ink was being hustled inside from the garage. Debbie
stared at him. He was obviously sloshed out of his mind
at ten in the morning.
I took her hand and led her around the big
horseshoe-shaped desk toward the holding cells.
“Billy? You’re spending a lot of time with
“That guy is creepy.”
“He’s sad. His kid was killed in
Afghanistan. He drinks a lot, that’s
“Ugh. Those tattoos.”
“They’re bad.” She’d probably
have one herself by the time she was sixteen, but you
can always hope.
She moved on. “Billy’s great.” Then,
“What’s behind that door?”
I followed her gaze to the corner. “That’s
our padded cell.”
“For crazy people?”
“Well…for people who might try to hurt
“Cool! Can I see it?”
We went inside. “Padded” is a slight
exaggeration—the beige walls and floor have the
consistency of a pencil eraser. “Billy’s not
like I expected.” She pushed the walls, bouncing
tentatively on the balls of her feet. “I mean,
he’s not crazy or dangerous or anything.”
“Who told you he was dangerous?”
“Oh, I don’t
“They were probably talking about his brother, Ed,
who actually is crazy. And dangerous. But he’s
going to be in jail for a long, long time. So I
wouldn’t worry about him.”
“Billy is so the opposite of that. He
wouldn’t hurt anyone. I mean, he’s sad about
all the changes here, but he knows he can’t stop
them. He’s not like some kind of terrorist or
I put a hand on her shoulder to stop the bouncing.
She looked up at me. “Someone’s been calling
Billy Delavane a terrorist?”
“I don’t know. I guess so. It’s
just—people talk. People say stupid stuff all the
time. Gossip and stuff.”
“I guess. But you’ve only been here a week,
and you’re already hearing hardcore gossip about
Billy Delavane? I don’t see how that’s
possible. Are the kids talking about him?”
“The kids love him.”
“Then who? Your mother? Your mother’s
The idea of her talking to her mother’s friends
was obviously so crazy only a clueless grown-up could
We went to the jail cells next, three for the women and
six for the men, simple rooms with built-in stainless
steel sinks and toilets and a blue cement slab bed. The
men’s side was full, so I walked her into the
women’s block which was empty for the moment.
Debbie pointed at one of the slabs. “How can
anyone sleep on that?”
“We have special bedding, but people don’t
usually stay here overnight.”
“What’s that for?” She was looking at
the stainless steel rail than ran along the length of
the slab, eight inches off the floor.
“That’s called a Murphy bar—it’s
for handcuffing people.”
“Oooo.” She shuddered
Steven holds an MFA in writing from Vermont
College of the Fine Arts and remains a member of the WGA
despite a long absence from Hollywood. His work has been
featured on various websites, including the literary
e-zine Numéro Cinq, where he is on the masthead.
His work has also appeared at Salon.com and The GoodMen
Project, as well as the magazines PulpModern and
BigPulp. A father of two, he lives on Nantucket Island,
Massachusetts, where he paints houses and writes, often
at the same time, much to the annoyance of his
At first, I was not enjoying the timeline for Nantucket
Five-Spot. Parts of it were in the present, parts of it
were ten weeks ago, five years ago, two hours ago.
Happily all the jumps to the past were clearly labeled
so you weren’t flailing around wondering what time
period you were in. As I continued to read I realized
that this jumping from time to time, although confusing,
was a great way to mirror the confusion Police Chief
Henry Kennis felt during the investigation. Just like
Henry, you the reader are getting bits of information
here, there, from different time periods and trying to
slide everything into the right spot.
This was book two in the series and it wasn’t
difficult to jump into Book 2 but you may find yourself
wanting to read Book 1 also. Although the first section
of the book is heavy on investigation/stand-offs by
competing law enforcement agencies (locals vs. state
police vs. Homeland Security vs. FBI), once the action
starts it doesn’t let up. I love that these guys
that seem like they are barely capable of patrolling the
4th of July parade really step up to the plate and
finally begin working together once they have a common
The setting details are great, making the book more
memorable, funny and occasionally beautiful.