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The Nature Of The Grave: A John And Sarah…

The Nature Of The Grave: A John And Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery

by Martha Reed

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John and Sarah Jarad had a whirlwind romance, a quick marriage, and not much time to get to know each other. One thing Sarah didn’t know about her new husband, a lieutenant in the Nantucket Police Department, is that when he was a pre-teen in 1979, his seven-year-old brother Danny went missing and was never found. Twenty years later, and after being married just a few months, John is ready to dust off the police file and solve the case. Sarah, an artist, offers to help.

At the same time he is opening the cold case, the Jarad family gathers to mourn the death of John’s 87-year-old great uncle Ethan, a reclusive, eccentric man who lived in a tumble-down shack and drank a bottle of vodka a day. John soon begins to speculate that the old man knew more about Danny’s disappearance than he let on. And when the will is read, Ethan’s legacy to John brings up even more questions.

Soon after that, Danny’s arrival in Nantucket with a tale of kidnapping and sexual abuse gets the island’s gossip mill going. Then several suspicious deaths convince John that someone on the island wants to keep secrets from the distant past from being revealed.

I hadn’t read three pages of The Nature of the Grave when I said to myself, “I like the way Martha Reed writes.” Martha’s style is very fluid and her language has a natural rhythm that makes the writing appear effortless – although I know that typically takes a lot of skill and work. The dialogue is fresh, the description of Nantucket spot on, and the characters (especially John and Sarah) very appealing. Some of my all-time favorite mysteries involve the unearthing of old family secrets – and the plot in The Nature of the Grave was particularly complex and well put together.

Cozy readers who avoid books with profanity should be forewarned that there is a bit of coarse language in The Nature of the Grave. It is not by any means excessive, but a few of the secondary characters should have their mouths washed out with soap. For that reason, I’m categorizing The Nature of the Grave as “not quite cozy.” On all other counts, The Nature of the Grave is textbook cozy.

I’m looking forward to the second book in this series, The Witch of Wauwinet, which is expected out in 2007 … and I think Martha Reed deserves a huge audience. BTW: The Nature of the Grave won a 2006 Independent Publisher Book Award ("IPPY") Honorable Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction in a field of more than 3,000 entries.

By Diana. First published in the Cozy Library, May 15, 2006. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jul 24, 2006 |
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