Maggie Hammond goes to live in a small coastal village in New England when she inherits a Victorian house from her godmother. There she discovers an insular community closed to outsiders and jealous of its own secrets. Slowly but inexorably, Maggie becomes aware of a private curse that the townspeople are unable to conceal, and which threatens to destroy their home.

“ISLAND JUSTICE is the kind of book that used to be called a “good read” — there’s nothing better.”
-New York Times Book Review 

William Morrow, 1998


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In this compelling, evocative novel set on a small island off the New England coast, Elizabeth Winthrop subtly examines our notions of home.

For Maggie Hammond, home means her beloved godmother, so when Nan dies, the Victorian house she inhabited becomes merely a possession for Maggie to shed. But when she meets Sam Matera, the island naturalist, and a dead body rolls up on her beach, she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the complex world of the island’s winter community.

For Anna Craven, marriage to an abusive bully means a home fraught with danger and shrouded in secrets. She watches in growing despair as her teenage daughter, Erin, disappears into herself and begins to keep secrets of her own. As Anna grows closer to Dennis Lacey, the newly arrived island doctor, gossip flies and the domestic problems long hidden behind closed doors erupt into violence. The tightly knit group of year-rounders are forced to examine the erosive undertow of secrecy that threatens to destroy the island community they call home.

A beautifully observed novel in the tradition of Anne Tyler and Alice Hoffman, Island Justice sets Maggie’s struggle to trust the pulls of her heart against the backdrop of a community intent on pursuing its own unique brand of justice.