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A Beautiful Place to Die by Philip R. Craig
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A Beautiful Place to Die (1991)

by Philip R. Craig

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You can always tell when an author has either spent time or lived in the area where his or her book takes place. The details are sharper, the descriptions more lovingly told...if that makes sense. There is a care to the words. Philip R. Craig is no different. Because of the way he describes the island of Martha's Vineyard early on in A Beautiful Place To Die, you can tell he calls it home.

Jefferson Washington Jackson is a retired Boston cop/Vietnam veteran living on the island of Martha's Vineyard trying to forget about the bullet still lodged in his back. To keep himself occupied he is an avid fisherman, a successful gardener (does better with vegetables than flowers) and a decent cook. After a friend's boat explodes and someone he knew was killed Jeff finds a new hobby as private investigator. Along with a suspicious boat explosion there are rumors of drug busts and murder. There are plenty of little twists and turns to A Beautiful Place to Die so even though it is a short (211 pages) read, it is entertaining. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 30, 2016 |
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. ( )
  cathyskye | Nov 17, 2011 |
Good enough story line, characters, and writing style to make me want to try more in this series. A quick read, and a mystery plot with a logical and satisfying ending. ( )
  SharronA | Oct 31, 2011 |
Liked it, but I kept thinking about the parallels to Parker's Spenser novels, with the setting and the obsession with food and the girl. But I'll go back and try some more in the series. ( )
  mkschoen | Jan 22, 2010 |
Good from the first book to the last. In his first Martha's Vineyard mystery, JW catches a lot of bluefish, introduces Bonzo, meets Zee, shares two bluefish recipes and gets shot twice. ( )
  jamespurcell | Nov 1, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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To my wife,
Shirley Prada Craig,
a Vineyard woman, a daughter of the sea
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The alarm went off at three-thirty.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380711559, Mass Market Paperback)

During his career as a Boston cop, Jeff "J.W." Jackson saw enough of the evil that men do to last a lifetime. So he retired to the serenity of Martha's Vineyard to spend his days fishing for blues and wooing a sexy nurse named Zee. But when a local's boat mysteriously explodes off the coast, killing an amiable young drifter, Jackson finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the investigative trade. For there is a serpent loose in paradise -- and it's contaminating Jackson's lovely, peaceful island with its poisonous venom of drugs and death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)

During his career as a Boston cop, Jeff "J. W." Jackson saw enough of the evil that men do to last a lifetime. So he retired to the serenity of Martha's Vineyard to spend his days fishing for blues and wooing a sexy nurse named Zee. But when a local's boat mysteriously explodes off the coast, killing an amiable young drifter, Jackson finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the investigative trade. For there is a serpent loose in paradise -- and it's contaminating Jackson's lovely, peaceful island with its poisonous venom of drugs and death.… (more)

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