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Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand

Contemporary fiction

Swan Song

by Elin Hilderbrand

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Quick take

In her final Nantucket novel, Elin Hilderbrand follows a retiring police chief as he tries to solve a mysterious fire.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Whodunit

    Whodunit

  • Illustrated icon, Fourth_in_the_series

    Fourth in Series

  • Illustrated icon, Island

    Island

Synopsis

After thirty-five years serving as the Chief of Police on the island of Nantucket, Ed Kapenash’s heart can no longer take the stress. But his plans to retire are thwarted when, with only three days left to serve, he receives a phone call. A 22-million-dollar summer home, recently purchased by the flashy new couple in town, the Richardsons, has burned to the ground. The Richardsons are far from hurt—in fact, they’re out on the water, throwing a lavish party on their yacht—but when news of the fire reaches them, they discover that their personal assistant has vanished. The Chief is well-acquainted with the Richardsons, and his daughter is best friends with the now-missing girl, leaving him no choice but to postpone his retirement and take on the double case.

On a small island like Nantucket, the Richardsons shook things up from the second they stepped on to the scene, throwing luxurious parties and doing whatever they could to gain admittance to the coveted lunches at the Field and Oar Club (with increasing desperation). They instantly captured the attention of local real estate agent Fast Eddie, and the town gossip Blond Sharon, both dealing with their own personal dramas. Blond Sharon is going through a divorce, and in order to avoid becoming a cliché, she’s enrolled in a creative writing class, putting her natural affinity for scandal towards a more noble purpose. To solve the case of the fire and track down his daughter’s best friend, the Chief will have to string together the pieces of the lives of all of these characters and more, rallying his strength for his final act of service to the tight-knit community he knows and loves.

Swan Song is a propulsive medley of glittering gatherings, sun-soaked drama, wisdom and heart, featuring the return of some of Elin Hilderbrand’s most beloved characters, including, most importantly, the beautiful and timeless island of Nantucket itself.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Swan Song.

Swan Song

Prologue

Thursday, August 22, 6:00 p.m.

Rumors about Nantucket Police chief Ed Kapenash’s retirement have been swirling around for the past two years, though when asked directly, the Chief said, “I’m far too busy to contemplate retirement.” However, three days after the Big Scare in February, Ed told his wife, Andrea (from his hospital bed at Mass General), “That’s it, I’m finished, I’ll just stay on through the summer while we find someone to replace me.”

“Another summer, Ed?” Andrea cried out. She was shaken—and for good reason.

Ed had been giving a safety talk in the gymnasium of Nantucket Elementary when his left arm started to tingle. He felt short of breath, his vision splotched—and the next thing he knew, he was being loaded onto a medevac chopper and flown to MGH for emergency bypass surgery.

“You had the kind of heart attack we call the widow‐maker,” Dr. Very Important said. “A full blockage of your LAD artery. You were lucky the paramedics were right there. Otherwise this could have ended differently.”

Yes, the fire chief—Stu Vick—and EMTs from his department had been in the school gym as well, waiting for their turn to speak, when Ed hit the floor.

As Dr. Big Shot gave Ed a lecture about exercise, diet, and, above all, stress, Ed gauged Andrea’s reaction to the term widow-maker.

Not good.

“You should retire now,” Andrea said. “You might not survive another summer.” She looked at Dr. Master of the Universe because she needed him to hear the backstory. “Ed has been admitted to the Nantucket hospital three times in the past two years for chest pain. They wanted to send him up here for testing but he refused.”

Ed sighed. He’d married a tattletale. But also, Ed felt guilty. Had he played fast and loose with his health? Yes. Could he just give two weeks’ notice and leave the public safety of the island up for grabs? He could not.

He would retire in the fall.

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Why I love it

It is the end of an era: the queen of the beach read is hanging up her flip-flops. The aptly named Swan Song is Elin Hilderbrand’s final entry in her long-running Nantucket series. And she is not coasting out. Like all of its forebearers, this novel is populated by fascinating characters, compelling sights and sounds of island life, sharp interpersonal observations, and prose that carry readers effortlessly on their journey like an ocean wave.

The Richardsons are new arrivals on Nantucket and they have landed with a major splash. Wasting no time, they have been throwing major bashes at their new summer home and on their yacht, rankling many of their neighbors in the process. That is until their mega-mansion goes unexpectedly up in flames. Who could have set the blaze and why has the Richardsons’ assistant gone missing? Now it’s the responsibility of Nantucket police chief, Ed Kapenash, to solve these mysteries or risk delaying his impending retirement. Thus begins an investigation that will take him all around the small, tight-knit island community to get to the bottom of things and see where the sand settles.

Summer is upon us. Do yourself a favor and learn how Elin Hilderbrand earned her reputation. Swan Song will have you feeling the beach beneath your feet and as entertained as the best parties of the season.

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