While Martha's Vineyard usually conjures up serene thoughts of the sea, the sun and summer fun, author Philip R. Craig's A Vineyard Killing reveals a very different aspect of the island.
J.W. Jackson, a retired Boston policeman and part-time private investigator, lives year-round on Martha's Vineyard with his wife and kids. Although the former policeman is happy to have left his crime fighting life behind in the big city, trouble seems to find him.
In A Vineyard Killing, J.W. finds himself with a new mystery on his hands just a few months before the tourists are due to arrive.
The mystery is set around the attempted murder of a devious real-estate tycoon who has been trying to force locals, including J.W. to sell their island homes for less than they are worth.
Last month's featured book club in Good Morning America's "Read This!" series, "The Balancing the Books Book Club" from Westwood, Mass., chose to pass on A Vineyard Killing to this month's featured book club, "Text and the City" book club from New York City.
Join the book club in reading A Vineyard Killing by Philip R. Craig. You can get started with chapter one:
Our children, Joshua and Diana, were over on the mainland for two days, being spoiled by Zee's mother and father, and Zee and I were having lunch in the E and E Deli with John and Mattie Skye. It was a sunny but chilly March day, with a cold wind blowing from the north.
Outside, the traffic at the dread five corners in Vineyard Haven was moving smoothly along. Such would not be the case when summer arrived and the street would be a slow-moving parking lot.
"Too bad the twins couldn't make it down with you," said Zee, wiping her lips.
"The girls have more interesting ways to spend their long weekend than being with their parents," said Mattie. "They're college women now."
I could remember when John and Mattie's daughters, Jen and Jill, were little girls, about the ages our children were now. I hadn't been able to tell them apart then, and I still couldn't. "They don't make a quesadilla as good as this one up in Weststock," I said.
"But Weststock has college men," explained Mattie. "Compared to that, even E and E food has insufficient appeal."
"You're brave to leave them alone up there for three days," said Zee.
I suspected that she was thinking of our Diana, who would be of interest to young men in another ten years or so. I shared her view, having begun worrying about just such boys shortly after Diana had been born.
"They're eighteen," said John, who made his living teaching medieval lit at Weststock College. "They're supposed to be grown-up enough to stay out of trouble."
I had never grown up that much, so said nothing about John's fantasy.
The front door opened and let in both some cold air and John Reilley, who looked carefully around the room, nodded slightly to me, and went to the counter to order.
I knew a folk song about a sailor named John Riley, but I didn't know much about this John Reilley. Two things I did know were that he always took a survey of a room before he entered it, and that he was a carpenter with the reputation of being good with his hands. It was an excellent reputation to have on an island that was awash with money being spent by people buying old houses, tearing them down, and then building massive new ones. John Reilley would never be out of work as long as he lived on Martha's Vineyard.