Francine Mathews books in order
Francine Barron Mathews, otherwise known as Francine Mathews, is an American author of mystery, thriller and spy fiction novels.
She also writes historical mysteries under the name Stephanie Barron.
Born in Binghamton, New York, she studied European History at Princeton University and acquired a master’s degree in Latin American History from Stanford University.
Although she failed to complete her doctorate in history, Francine went on to work as an intelligence analyst for the CIA for a number of years before leaving to focus on full time writing.
Inspired to write by John McPhee and Elizabeth George, Francine made her writing debut in 1993 with Death in the Off Season, the first book in the Merry Folger Mysteries.
She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her children and her husband, who is a renowned lawyer in their locality.
Whenever she isn't writing, Francine enjoys skiing, gardening, needlepointing, cooking, and traveling.
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pseudonym: Also known as Stephanie Barron.
- The Secret Agent (2002)
- The Alibi Club (2006)
- Jack 1939 (2012)
- Too Bad to Die (2015)
- The Sunken Sailor (2004)
- The Cut Out (2001)
- Blown (2005)
- Death in the Off Season (1994)
- Death in Rough Water (1995)
- Death in a Mood Indigo (1997)
- Death in a Cold Hard Light (1998)
- Death on Nantucket (2017)
- Death on Tuckernuck (2020)
- Death on a Winter Stroll (2022)
Detailed book overview
Who was Jack Roderick?
Trained by the OSS, Jack Roderick plummeted into Bangkok one rainy morning in 1945 and never left. Silk King, pirate, ruthless collector of beautiful objects--especially women--Roderick was feared and respected as a foreign spy, a business kingpin, and a trader in men’s souls. And then, at the height of the Vietnam War, caught in a killing web of treachery and revenge that would determine the fate of his only son, Rory, Jack Roderick walked into the jungle…and vanished from the face of the earth.
Four decades later, can the mystery be solved?
International fund manager Stefani Fogg is recruited by a man whose job it is to know the unknowable. Wealthy beyond corruption, impervious to romance, and equipped with a mind that can crack any enigma, Stefani signs up for the adventure of a lifetime: playing Secret Agent to Max Roderick, grandson of Bangkok’s long-vanished Legendary American.
A world-class skier tangled in a sordid Thai murder investigation, Max is consumed with the riddle of Jack Roderick’s disappearance--and with his own father’s death in the jungles of Vietnam.
Seduced by Max’s charm and intrigued by his family history, Stefani ignores the warning signs and follows her heart. But when Max’s quarrel with the Thai police turns deadly and a killer strikes, she knows she must return to the place where it all began, to unravel the lies, penetrate a deadly conspiracy, and expose a killing truth. She flees Max’s France for Bangkok’s khlongs--into the ruins of the Silk King’s dark past and the mesmerizing shadow of the Roderick family curse.
What she finds, in Jack Roderick’s story and in the fate of his fighter-pilot son, is an American dream that crashed and burned in the rice paddies of Vietnam and a chilling legacy that haunts our own to this day.
First Release: 2002
It’s the city’s most infamous after-hours haunt—a glittering hotbed of deals and debaucheries. The sordid death of Philip Stilwell sends shock waves through the Alibi Club...for there’s much more to Stilwell’s untimely end than a sex game gone wrong.
His murder and the desperate attempt to keep a deadly weapon out of German hands will bring together the strands of a twisted plot of betrayal, passion, and espionage—one connected to the Alibi Club...and to the most explosive secret of the war.
As the Nazis march on Paris and the crisis escalates, four remarkable characters are swept into the maelstrom. Their courage will change the course of history.
First Release: 2006
A young JFK travels to Europe on a secret mission for President Roosevelt.
It’s the spring of 1939, and the prospect of war in Europe looms large. The United States has no intelligence service. In Washington, D.C., President Franklin Roosevelt may run for an unprecedented third term and needs someone he can trust to find out what the Nazis are up to. His choice: John F. Kennedy.
It’s a surprising selection. At twenty-two, Jack Kennedy is the attractive but unpromising second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain (and occasional political adversary). But when Jack decides to travel through Europe to gather research for his Harvard senior thesis, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to use him as his personal spy.
The president’s goal: to stop the flow of German money that has been flooding the United States to buy the 1940 election—an election that Adolf Hitler intends Roosevelt lose.
First Release: 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming attempts to foil a Nazi plot to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.
November, 1943. Weary of his deskbound status in the Royal Navy, intelligence officer Ian Fleming spends his spare time spinning stories in his head that are much more exciting than his own life…until the critical Tehran Conference, when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day invasion.
With the Big Three in one place, Fleming is tipped off that Hitler’s top assassin has infiltrated the conference. Seizing his chance to play a part in a real-life action story, Fleming goes undercover to stop the Nazi killer. Between martinis with beautiful women, he survives brutal attacks and meets a seductive Soviet spy who may know more than Fleming realizes.
As he works to uncover the truth and unmask the assassin, Fleming is forced to accept that betrayal sometimes comes from the most unexpected quarters—and that one’s literary creations may prove eerily close to one’s own life.
First Release: 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
During a weekend house party in a proper English village, a body is discovered at the bottom of a pond tied to a submerged statue of Neptune.
And the weekend has only just begun.
So has this ingenious mystery-a literary game of round robin in which fourteen master crime writers have each contributed a chapter of their own. What they deliver is a wildly entertaining whodunit with as many dizzying twists, turnabouts, double-crosses, and divergent styles as there are solutions and suspects.
Featuring the bestselling and multiple award-winning talents of:
First Release: 2004
CUTOUT: A third person used to conceal the contact between two people. A pawn.
They were partners — lovers in a business where betrayal is a heartbeat away. CIA analyst Caroline Carmichael lost her husband Eric when his plane was blown out of the sky by an elite group of terrorists known as 30 April.
Now her dead husband has surfaced among those responsible for an explosion that rocks Berlin — and the brutal kidnapping of the U.S. Vice President. Uncertain of Eric’s motives and loyalties, the Agency plays its last, best card: Eric’s wife — the Cutout.
Is Eric a rogue agent gone bad? Or has he thrown himself under deep cover to terminate a ruthless psychopath? Caroline is drawn into a dizzying maze where one wrong turn will mean certain death ... and in which the Cutout will be the first to fall.
First Release: 2001
Former CIA analyst Francine Mathews has created “one of the toughest female secret agents we’ve seen in a long time.”* Using her firsthand expertise of international espionage, Mathews offers another brilliantly realized suspense novel so intense, so authentic, it lethally blurs the line between fact and fiction. In Blown, Caroline Carmichael returns in a white-hot tale of terror on the streets of Washington, where one woman must gamble her life to save her country.
As thousands of runners line up for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., no one suspects that in a matter of hours the event will become a race between life and death. CIA analyst Caroline Carmichael is about to tender her resignation, when the first reports of a terrorist attack pour in–and she instantly recognizes the hand of an enemy she’s battled for years: the 30 April Organization.
The neo-Nazi group is alive and well and operating in the United States, assassinating top officials and abducting a vulnerable child from the front ranks of a state funeral. When Caroline’s husband, Eric, is arrested in Germany as a 30 April operative, Caroline has no choice but to take to the streets–and target the evil herself.
Eric has worked as a “legend” for years–a false identity so perfect, the CIA believes he’s dead–and gone deep undercover within the terrorist group Caroline is determined to destroy. Now his cover’s been blown, and Eric’s intimate knowledge of 30 April’s plans makes him a target for both sides: the killers he’s betrayed, and the American government he’s sworn to protect.
Torn between a desire to save her husband and her duty to save her country, Caroline is drawn back into a treacherous labyrinth where trusting others is as good as suicide. For the enemy this time wears a familiar face: that of an American patriot, waving his flag alongside his gun. To stem disaster, Caroline has only one choice: to betray everyone in which she believes–or everyone she loves.
For an agent without cover–an agent who’s blown–is worse than betrayed: she’s as good as dead.
First Release: 2005
When Rusty Mason, scion of one of Nantucket's oldest and wealthiest families, is found dead in a flooded cranberry bog one foggy fall night, thirty-two-year-old detective Merry Folger is faced with her first murder case. Merry is the daughter of the local police chief and granddaughter of his predecessor; her father is a strict boss and Merry feels pressure to go the extra mile to prove her promotion to detective isn’t just nepotism. But the Mason murder is a demanding first test.
Merry’s investigation brings to light all the tensions that plague the tiny community of Nantucket: the decades-old grudges, the skyrocketing real estate that only wealthy weekenders can afford, the resentments of the old Nantucket families who are barely keeping their homes and heritage fishing businesses alive. But Merry knows the island and its politics in a way only a local can.
First Release: 1994
Publisher: Soho Crime
Fresh from her first murder case, Nantucket detective Merry Folger is unwillingly sucked into her second.
When Joe Duarte, a fishing boat captain with decades of experience on the wild seas off Nantucket, is swept overboard during a spring storm, his death is pronounced accidental. But his estranged daughter, Del, is convinced it’s murder.
She moves back to Nantucket to get closer to the truth, and enlists her old friend, detective Merry Folger, to help. But Del is also hiding secrets of her own, and the police are not inclined to help her with what they see as a wild goose chase. Merry has to defy her boss—her father—in order to investigate.
First Release: 1995
Publisher: Soho Crime
Word travels fast in Nantucket when two children and their dog discover a skeleton in the dunes of the cold Sconset beach. Could the dead woman be the latest victim of the serial killer who has been terrorizing mainland Massachusetts? The FBI seems to think so and sends their forensic psychiatrist to the scene. But Police Detective Merry Folger has her own suspicions, and starts looking into a cold case that has long baffled Nantucket police: the disappearance of a beautiful Harvard-educated psychiatrist seven years ago.
When Merry starts inquiring into the tenuous leads in that long-cold case, she stumbles into a web of violent passions and buried crimes, a web that continues to ensnare victims. Two more women are murdered, giving fuel to the FBI’s quest for a serial killer. But Merry, well-aware of the tangled histories of some of the island’s longtime residents, is convinced the only way forward is digging deeper into the past.
First Release: 1997
Publisher: Soho Crime
After a trying case, detective Merry Folger begrudgingly agrees to take a leave from work to meet her fussy future in-laws in Greenwich, but it isn’t long before she is summoned back to Nantucket. The body of a 21-year-old was discovered in the frigid waters of the Sound in the days leading up to the annual Christmas celebration, and the death isn’t sitting well with Merry’s father, the local police chief, who fears the track marks on the victim’s arms may be indicative of a growing drug problem on the island.
Feeling a constant need to live up to her father’s expectations, Merry rushes home to her fiancé, Peter’s, annoyance, only to find that heroin isn’t the only destructive force in Nantucket.
Soon after Merry arrives, she feels stonewalled by her father. If he was so desperate for her help, why won’t he share the details of the case with her? What is he hiding? For the first time, Merry fears she cannot trust her lifelong role model—her own father—let alone figure out why a young athlete and Harvard scholar ended up dead in the frigid, storm-churned Sound.
First Release: 1998
Publisher: Soho Crime
Spencer Murphy is a national treasure. A famous Vietnam War correspondent who escaped captivity in Southeast Asia, he made a fortune off of his books and television appearances. But Spence is growing forgetful with age; he’s started to wander and even fails to come home one night. When a body is discovered at Step Above, the sprawling Murphy house near Steps Beach, Nantucket police detective Meredith Folger is called in to investigate.
The timing couldn’t be worse: It’s the Fourth of July, and tourists are arriving in droves to celebrate on Nantucket’s beaches, so the police force is spread thin. On top of that Merry is planning her wedding to cranberry farmer Peter Mason, and her new boss, an ex-Chicago police chief with an aggressive management strategy, seems to be trying to force her to quit.
Merry can’t conclude the Murphy investigation quickly enough for him. As she grapples with a family of unreliable storytellers—some incapable of recalling the past, and others determined that it never be known—she suspects that the truth may be forever out of reach, trapped in the failing brain of a man whose whole life may be a lie.
First Release: 2017
Publisher: Soho Crime
In the Category 3 winds of a late-season hurricane, Nantucket police detective Merry Folger and her team attempt a rescue off the secluded island of Tuckernuck—only to discover a deadly secret.
As a Category 3 hurricane bears down on Nantucket, Dionis Mather and her father have their work cut out for them. Their family business is to ferry goods and people back and forth from Tuckernuck, the private island off Nantucket’s western tip, a place so remote and exclusive that it is off the electric grid.
As caretakers of the small plot of sand in the middle of the Atlantic, the Mathers are responsible for evacuating Tuckernuck’s residents, who range from a stubborn elderly native who refuses to leave her family home to the abandoned summer house pets of an absentee NFL quarterback. But as the storm surge rises and the surf warnings mount, Dionis has to make a choice: abandon whatever—or whoever—was left behind, or risk her own life by plunging back into the maelstrom. Even she has no idea what evil the hurricane is sheltering.
When the coast guard notifies the Nantucket police of a luxury yacht grounded in the shoals off Tuckernuck’s northern edge—with two shooting victims lying in the main cabin—detective Meredith Folger throws herself into an investigation before the hurricane sweeps all crime-scene evidence out to sea.
Merry is supposed to be on leave this weekend, dancing at her own wedding, but the Cat 3 has thrown her blissful plans into chaos. As her battered house fills with stranded wedding guests and flood waters rise all over Nantucket Island, Merry has her own choice to make: How much should she risk in order to bring a criminal to justice?
First Release: 2020
Publisher: Soho Crime
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?
First Release: 2022
Publisher: Soho Crime