Death Below Deck

by Douglas Kiker 1991

KikerWhen his longtime friend Bitsy Binford, an old-money Cape Cod widow, invited reporter Mac McFarland to her estate early one morning, he wasn’t expecting anything more eye-opening than a good cup of coffee.

Then, at his hostess’s urging, Mac took a tour of the impressively outfitted boat that belonged to Bitsy’s stepson – and came face-to-face with the young man’s corpse. To all a appearances, it was suicide, but Mac’s instincts told him something just wasn’t shipshape about a wealthy, powerful communications magnate blowing his brains out.

And the more Mac burrowed into the history of the battling blue-blooded Binfords, the more secrecy, jealousy, and madness he uncovered, enough to convince him that there was murder afoot… and afloat.

‘Kiker knows his way around mystery writing.’  ~USA TODAY

‘Kiker’s prose flows effortlessly, quiet but filled with tension.’  ~The New York Times Book Review

This was the third and final book in a three book series. I’ve read them all now and they are excellent mysteries! The two reviews above are spot on! Douglas Kiker died at 61 of a heart attack the year this book was published. A real loss to mystery lovers! He was a news correspondent and newspaperman as well as an author. He was in the presidential motorcade when JFK was assassinated in 1963. You can read about his death and career here.

In this book Mac is called by an old friend he hasn’t seen in years and joins her at the old family summer home for coffee and a catch-up. What he gets as a side with that coffee is a dead body. Bitsy, (I detest that name!) nonchalantly invites him down to inspect the new yacht of her stepson-in-law and they find him dead. An apparent suicide. But then Bitsy lets him in on a little secret, she had found the body earlier that morning and invited Mac over to stage the finding of the body with him! Hmm… What is she hiding and what did she hope to accomplish by pulling Mac into the picture? Turns out everyone wanted Peter Stallings dead, could it have been Mac’s old friend Bitsy? Or is she shielding someone else?

I like the characters in this series and you can read this as a stand-a-lone but it does help to have read the first two to explain the relationships with the town people. Cape Cod is a lovely setting and Kiker does know how to weave a tale! Several twists and turns in this one. If you like mysteries this is a really good book and series to try to get your hands on. So sorry that wasn’t more in the Mac McFarland series, he’s a great character.

You can look at my reviews of the first book – Murder on Clam Pond and the second Death at the Cut.

P.S. you can read this one or any Kiker book free at

Death at the Cut by Douglas Kiker


It all started with a wild canary.

For what reporter Mac McFarland had thought was a rare Spinus Tristus bird turned out to be a yellow Volkswagen, half-submerged in the water near the Cape Cod beach where presidential hopeful Dolph Bridges happened to be staying.

That might have been the end of it. But when Mac sped to the water to check it out, he found the body of a beautiful young woman still pinned in the passenger seat by her seat belt.

A tragedy, yes. But also a suspicious one. Who had been the driver? Why had the girl been abandoned? At first she appeared to be only a summertime waitress. But gradually Mac discovered that a great many important people knew her, including Senator Bridges himself, who apparently saw her as more than just a pretty face. You might say he knew her intimately in life – and maybe in death…

This is a second in a trilogy. Pretty fitting reading right now with the political aspect to the storyline! A good solid mystery in a nice setting. I like the main series characters and their interaction with each other. The plot was smoothly paced and the culprit a bit of a surprise. It was not who I was sure it was! If you come across Kiker’s books pick them up, you’ll enjoy them.

This book counts for Bev’s Vintage Scavenger Hunt, Silver. Fulfilling the square for Body of Water on the cover. That puts me at 7 for Silver!

Murder on Clam Pond by Douglas Kiker

‘Blame it all on MouMou.                 

At least that’s the way Mac McFarland felt. He hated the feisty little poodle almost as much a he hated the wife he’d just left. But there he was, sharing a rented, run-down house with his dog-in the middle of winter, in the middle of Cape Cod. No family, no job – just a burned-out, lonely reporter who used to be one of the best.

Then MouMou found the body, lying in the snow near the back porch of the big house next door…

It was Jane Drexel, very rich and very dead. Murdered, in fact. A detail McFarland learned when he called the police. And when he became a stringer for a Boston paper and was assigned to the case, he learned more – a lot more. Like the secret relationship Mrs. Drexel had with her trustees. Who really controlled the town? How did Mrs. Drexel handle her millions? And, last but not least, who killed Jane Drexel – and why…?’                                                                From back cover

“A tidy, lovely Cape Cod mystery written by a craftsman’s hand…lots of fun to read.”      ~George V. Higgins

“An entertaining murder mystery, with a hero you’ll want to see again.”   
~The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

How right they are! It was a fun read, found myself chuckling many times and I can’t wait to see what McFarland is up to in the second book of this 3 book series! I’ve already ordered it on Paperbackswap!

This book was written in 1986 by Douglas Kiker, an American author and newspaper/television reporter. He was a reporter for the NBC Nightly News. If your interested you can see a short clip of him doing the news here. Too bad for us mystery lovers, he started writing late in life and died the same year the third Mac McFarland Mystery was published.

I wasn’t too impressed when the book first started out, but before I knew it I was hooked on McFarland and loving everything about it. The scraggly old dog, MouMou, the location, the towns people and the solid murder mystery to solve. Get a copy if you can!

Mac MacFarland Mystery series
1. Murder On Clam Pond (1986)
2. Death At the Cut (1988)
3. Death Below Deck (1991)

Peggy Ann

Vintage Mystery Bingo 2014, Mount TBR 2014