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Off Season (A Martha's Vineyard Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – June 28, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As fisherman/sleuth J. W. Jackson gets increasingly adept in the kitchen, this Martha's Vineyard series brings Martha Stewart to mind, but the fun remains as Jackson proves he can still finger a murderer as deftly as he opens oysters. At issue here is 50 acres of land, coveted by hunters and animal-rights activists. Although the loud-mouthed leaders of both groups seem destined for homicide, the man who dies is an eccentric recluse with few enemies, a surprising way with the ladies, some strange sexual aids in his cabin and a bow and arrow, which is the weapon that kills him. The victim's link to the land squabble is his friendship with the daughter of an animal-rights supporter whose husband has political aspirations. Meanwhile, the hunters' spokesman is attacked by a thug linked to organized crime. Jackson has his hands full: hunting down scallops, cooking up batches of kale soup and staying on an even keel with Zee, the girl of his dreams and soon-to-be wife, if their attacks of nerves don't skuttle the pending nuptials. He also has to find the killer, which he does quite handily. Although Jackson verges on smug, the beauty of Craig's ( The Woman Who Walked into the Sea ) New England settings seem to justify his hero's pride in his soup, his boat, his girlfriend and his own, considerable charm.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ex-cop J.W. Jackson's idyllic engagement to Martha's Vineyard nurse Zee Madieras, and his ritual bouts of fishing and scalloping and cooking and eating, are interrupted by a feud between animal- rights activist Mimi Bettencourt and hunter/editorialist Ignacio Cortez over the proper use of the 50-acre tract that wealthy Carl Norton has just sold to a public commission; by a couple of run-ins with uncouth Providence hoodlum Joey Percell, who warns Nash Cortez to lay off them animal-rights people; and by a slight case of murder. The corpse is Chug Lovell, Carl's no-account neighbor and rumored tobacco heir. As usual, J.W. (Cliff Hanger, 1993, etc.), hired by improbably swinging lawyer Heather Mainwaring to find out who killed the man she was swinging with, never falters in his stream of breezy banter and prosy homiletics, not even when he's questioning the other women Chug had also enticed into sexual submission and then blackmailed with his photo albums. A pinch of mild mystery--J.W. seems to have learned his craft not from the Boston PD but from a mail-order course, and the local law is two or three lessons behind him--to a double helping of recipes and cozy charm. It must be off season for crime and punishment too. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reissue edition (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380725886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380725885
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has animal rights protestors vs hunters, a gangster connection, a shady politician, sexual peccadillos, romance among a widow and widower, and kittens. Snow is falling all over the island during Christmas season, and Nash Cortez is stirring up trouble with the animal rights protectors. Later, a dead body is found, and our hero is hired by the girlfriend of the deceased to find the killer. He warns her, she might not like what he finds... a premonition of what is to come. This book was full of enjoyable aspects, and every chapter was a pleasure to read. As with all of Philip Craig's books, you will work up an appetite salivating over the food descriptions too. Thumbs up!
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L LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE THESE BOOKS!!!!! A very dear friend introduced me to this marvelous series a couple of months ago and i'm completely, totalllllly addicted!!! i think it would be great to have a recipe section at the end of each book...i'd love to try j.w.'s bluefish pate! as i was reading the earlier fantabulous books, i wondered how martha's vineyard would be 'off season' and lo and behold, that was the very next book in the pile to read....never, ever stop writing about j.w. and zee and their crazy adventures....i'd love to have this great couple as next door neighbors!!!! thanx for so many wonderful hours savoring the incredible descriptions of places and recipes!!!!! i'm simply thrilled that i have 3 more books of this fun series in order to catch up to the present!!!! and when i'm reading something else, i actuallly miss j.w. and zee....crazy, huh???
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This mystery series is ivery very good. I think that they are almost as good as the Dirk Pitt series. Anyone who is a fan of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt series will like them or anyone who grew up reading and liking Nancy Drew/The Hardy Boys will like them. I sugest the series for those who have outgrown the Hardy boys or read all of the series and are looking for a new good mystery series to read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I lived on Martha's Vineyard for several years year-round, during the bustling summers and what is known as the "off season." Philip R. Craig's novel captures perfectly the sense of community that year-round Islanders enjoy. He also gives a realistic account about how everyone knows everyone else's business in a closely-knit environment. His characters Mimi and Nash are true to life. His descriptions about how people eke out a living scallopping and fishing in the off-season are also quite accurate. Craig also mixes into his cast of characters a few professional and business people, and their interaction with the native Islanders is key to his story. The suspense in "Off Season" is great, and I could not guess the outcome until the final pages of the book. I also love this book because it contains so many evocative passages about Martha's Vineyard. I feel like I am living there again when I read Craig's (a/k/a J.W. Jackson's) descriptions of my beloved Island. I know every secluded beach and back road about which he writes. When he writes about Wasque Point, I can almost see the sun setting westward over the beach in the late afternoon and feel the salty spray on my face from the crashing waves. Reading this book was like taking another vacation on the Vineyard!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Off Season" (1994) is another soft-boiled detective mystery in Philip R. Craig's series about Martha's Vineyard (there are nineteen books in all) featuring J.W. Jackson, ex-Boston cop. I've been to the island several times, and Craig's intimate and detailed knowledge of the place brings back memories. At times Craig is a little too cutesy wootsie for my tastes (the bits about the kittens and his matchmaking are cloying). J. W. (Jefferson), the narrator, has many handyman jobs and his main interest seems to be as a foodie, eating and cooking; the author goes into great detail about food preparation and menus. Often he's hunting, oystering, scalloping, fishing, a lot of outdoor stuff on the Vineyard in winter.
He's called upon to do some amateur sleuthing when a man with a seamy past is murdered with an arrow. A Providence gangster shows up and detracts from the plot. J.W. goes around without a detective's license interrogating suspects, and they tell him an awful lot, more than is credible for my money.
It's so full of Island lore and local color that it seems intended to whet the appetites of future Vineyard visitors or satisfy those who know the place.
J.W.'s romance with Zee is an important part of the narrative. The story starts off with a battle between the animal rights people and the hunters. Characterization is not one of Craig's strong points, and some elements of his plotting seem phony. Blackmail and kinky sex figure in the plot.
People on Vineyard beaches and elsewhere may find this a relaxing read that certainly won't overtax their minds, but they may have difficulty when it comes to the credulity test. The background Vineyard stuff is very authentic though, and J.W.'s cozy lifestyle may lull them into a state of forgiveness.
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This is the fifth book in the late Philip Craig's Martha's Vineyard mystery series. I'm now marching through them in order (type of guy). Though each has a separate plot, of course, they do not really need individual reviews --- as the style, virtues and shortcomings are all remarkably consistent.

The books are in the hard-boiled detective genre, and the hero, J.W. Jackson, is a poor man's Philip Marlowe, sharing his wise-cracking, tough-guy, literary-and-intelligent-but-without-airs, independent-personal-moral-code characteristics, the one difference being that Jackson finds true love.

It is no insult, of course, to note that author Craig is no Raymond Chandler, and, as hard-boiled mysteries go, these are fairly tepid stuff, good enough to keep you turning the pages, but completely forgettable as mysteries.

What makes the books wonderful for me is the loving, detailed, depiction of Martha's Vineyard. Craig, like his protagonist, became a year-round islander, and he describes all aspects of the Vineyard -- its people, its places, its rhythms -- with perfect accuracy and appreciation. Anyone who loves the Vineyard will be transported by these aspects of the books. I'm afraid others may be left cold. This is the kind of a book where the character can be making a routine meal, on a routine day in his Vineyard home and suddenly declare "Fat City!" with joy at these simple pleasures. Such writing would make me roll my eyes, if I didn't know exactly how he felt. As it is, I simply sigh with pleasure.

So, on to book six, and thank you Mr. Craig.
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