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A Beautiful Place to Die (Martha's Vineyard Mysteries (Avon Books)) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1991

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Product Details

  • Series: Martha's Vineyard Mysteries (Avon Books) (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (August 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380711559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380711550
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Retired cop J. W. Jackson, the protagonist of this debut mystery,is it okay to use 'mystery' in the section entitled such? also at end of this review and last review. Why not? is a passionate fisherman, an enthusiastic cook and appreciative gourmand, a quoter of Keats and Babar stories, and a dogged sleuth. Unfortunately, the latter quality is not displayed to impressive advantage in this ingratiating but largely tensionless yarn. The title refers to Martha's Vineyard, which Craig evokes quite well, conveying not only specific local color but also the sociological patterns of an inbred island community, celebrated by tourists for its idyllic ambience but also a haven for drug traffickers. When one of J. W.'s fishing buddies is killed in the explosion of a boat belonging to another fishingangling? while i hate to repeat the word fishing, I'm afraid angling will not do pal, a millionaire entrepreneur, J. W. dusts off his investigative skills, focusing on the boat owner's spoiled son, a former druggie. Meanwhile he is wooing a comely nurse, an apt student of angling I can see using it here techniques and as snappy a conversationalist as J. W. himself. While this is all pleasant, it is not terribly suspenseful. Since the romance proceeds without any problems strewn in the lovers' path, and the mystery lacks urgency and a sense of menace (despite the requisite car chase and a thunderstorm that cuts the power at a critical moment), this literate novel gets points for prose style but not for thrills.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“It wouldn’t be summer without a new Martha’s Vineyard Mystery.” (Boston Herald)

“Craig just keeps getting better.” (Chattanooga Times)

“Spending time with Craig on Martha’s Vineyard is the next best thing to vacationing on the island itself.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“The Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries are a breath of fresh air, with a touch of murder most foul.” (Denver Rocky Mountain News)

“Jackson is smart and tough and believable.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“[J.W. Jackson’s] a marvelous extension of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee and maybe even Don Quixote.” (Florida Times-Union)

“Craig paints the island so vividly that readers can almost smell the sea breezes.” (Booklist)

“You can’t help loving easy-going J.W. and the island he calls home.” (Tulsa World)

“Mr. Craig can mix a motivation and scramble a subplot with the best of them.” (Dallas Morning News)

Customer Reviews

The editing was a bit choppy, but I think I will most definately give book 2 a try.
I had read all of the first books in the series several years ago, and have returned to read them for a second time.
L Smith
A must read for fans of mysteries...especially those who have vacationed on the Island.
Heather M. Bowden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L Smith VINE VOICE on July 16, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the 1st book in the Martha's Vineyard Mystery series, we are introduced to J.W. Jackson, retired former Boston police officer, who now lives on Martha's Vineyard year-round. J.W., who spends most of his time fishing, puttering in his garden, and enjoying life on the Vineyard, has an insatiable curiosity that grew with his years on the force. When a boat explodes with the son of a friend of J.W. onboard, he quickly starts to question why the seemingly well-running boat blows up. The college-aged student, Billy, had been into drugs in the past, and J.W. begins to wonder if some of his old acquaintances want Billy dead. And when Billy's sister, Susie, pleads with J.W. to find out who would want her brother dead, he simply cannot resist the pull to investigate. Meanwhile, J.W. meets a beautiful, exotic nurse, named Zeolinda Madieras while fishing for blues one early morning. They start a simmering romance while J.W. seeks out a murderer before he becomes the next victim.

I just love this series! I had read all of the first books in the series several years ago, and have returned to read them for a second time. I feel as though I am revisiting a beloved vacation spot, as the setting of Martha's Vineyard is both beautiful and refreshing. I enjoy the characters of J.W. and Zee, and it is fun to watch their romance grow and blossom in this book. Reading this series is like taking a vacation on a beach on a gorgeous summer day, while enjoying good food, and the company of great friends. As J.W. would say, "Delish"!

The next book in the series is called "Death in Vineyard Waters". Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Skinner on March 16, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read most of Philip Craig's books, and finally got around to his first J. W. Jackson mystery. What a treasure! It fascinates me how Craig began the series with most of the charming anecdotes that re-appear in the subsequent Vineyard books, from the pay toilets at Gay Head (an abomination to civilization) to his love for catching the blues with a red headed Roberts. The romance with Zee starts here too, which delighted both myself and my wife as we read it.

This book starts off with a bang (actually an explosion) and quickly leads into something involving illegal drugs in paradise. We discover a fascinating story of a young man trying to discover his past, and another young man entangled in a world of drugs he cannot control. J.W. gets into personal danger in multiple circumstances. One of those seemed like it could have been the grand finale to the book, but I knew it couldn't because if occurred with many pages to go, leaving me intrigued how the story would continue to develop. The only negative comment I have is the ending leaves the reader to clean up a few of the loose ends in his or her imagination. This didn't bother me, but it might bother some.

Enjoy this masterpiece. Delish!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Beautiful Place to Die" is the first book in Craig's J.W. (Jefferson Washington) Jackson series. Craig sets this series on Martha's Vineyard, where Jackson, a former cop in the Boston police department, has a small house on an old hunting camp property he inherited from his father. Despite having a bullet lodged near his spine, he lives happily in relative poverty, supporting himself on his disability pension, the bluefish he catches and sells to the local fish market, the clams he digs, and the garden vegetables he grows.

In this book, a young woman asks Jackson to find out if someone tampered with the boat carrying her brother and a friend that blew up off the coast, killing the friend. Though Jackson doubts there was any foul play, he discovers it feels good to be investigating again. What he learns is that there is a lot more to the boat explosion than he thought. The investigation leads to the drug trade on the island and to a surprising family relationship, and as he delves deeper Jackson himself becomes the target of the killer.

In "A Beautiful Place to Die" Craig introduces us to two recurring series characters: the police chief in Edgartown, Jackson's friend (of sorts) and local law enforcement helper-to-be, and the beautiful Zee, a local nurse he meets while fishing for bluefish and a new love interest. Craig makes the most of his setting in this series, giving the reader a feel for life on Martha's Vineyard--the different types of locals, the culture of the fishermen, the island layout, the sunbathers, the traffic from tourists. He also makes the reader's mouth water as he describes the food, such as bluefish pate, that Jackson prepares for himself and the martinis he mixes.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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