It's March on Martha’s Vineyard. Too early for bluefish, but not too early for trouble. The winds are brisk and there’s still a chill coming in off the ocean. The mood is gloomy, and for good reason. Former Olympic fencing champion turned millionaire real estate developer Donald Fox has targeted the island for his newest moneymaking scheme. With land values huge and many longtime residents in possession of fuzzy deeds of sometimes dubious legal value, Fox and his team plan to force people to sell cheap. Give up now or we’ll fight you in court...or worse.
This absorbing yarn, the 14th in Craig's series set on Martha's Vineyard, portrays an island unknown to most visitors, cold and raw with a March wind biting instead of fish. Retired Boston policeman and part-time PI J.W. Jackson and his wife, Zee (whose head was turned by another man in last year's Vineyard Enigma), are enjoying an off-season lunch with friends at a Vineyard Haven deli when shots ring out in the street. Someone has tried to kill Paul Fox, brother of unscrupulous real-estate tycoon Donald Fox. The odd thing is, Paul was wearing a bulletproof vest, as if he were expecting serious trouble. Donald Fox, who's been buying up land with questionable titles and threatening island residents, may have been the intended target. In his search for answers, J.W. encounters some nasty thugs among the familiar cast of diverting locals, from the "keep out of this" police chief to the chief's sassy assistant. Island incidentals include fencing, fishing and firearms, along with the usual complaints about tourists. J.W.'s homely philosophy and a subtle theme of loyalty add depth. Well-constructed and well-paced, with humor and suspense, this outing shows Craig in fine form.