Author: Philip R. Craig
Publisher: Avon, 1991
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Genre: Cozy, #1 Martha's Vineyard mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: The alarm went off at three-thirty.
During his years as a Boston cop, Jeff "J.W." Jackson got a bellyful of seeing the evil that people do to one another, so when he decided to retire, he bought a place on Martha's Vineyard. Now he spends his time working out in his garden, fishing, cooking, and getting to know a new nurse on the island.
When a local's boat explodes off the coast, killing a well-liked young man, Jackson finds himself being drawn into the investigation. His island sanctuary is being poisoned with drugs and death, and he's determined to do something about it.
Philip R. Craig has a deceptively smooth writing style that drew me right into the story, and J.W. Jackson's self-deprecatory sense of humor put me in his cheering section immediately.
The strength of this book is the depiction of the life and the people of Martha's Vineyard. I could smell the salt air and hear the cry of the gulls wheeling overhead. Between J.W. and island life, I almost didn't notice that the plot was rather thin and had practically no tension. In the case of A Beautiful Place to Die, this didn't really matter because I enjoyed the background so much.
In many ways, this first book in the series seems to have been written as the foundation for all the books to come. While some series start off with grabbing you by the throat and filling in the details later, Craig starts his by telling us, "This is where everything happens. Here's the guy you want to pay close attention to, and here are his neighbors. Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you a story or two about what goes on here."
I look forward to coming back for more stories.