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For ex-cop J.W. Jackson, a Vineyard summer spent honeymooning with the fetching Zee Madieras is as good as life gets.
But when Zee and J.W. treat themselves to a matinee performance of the opera Carman in Boston, a hooded figure with a sawed-off shotgun cuts their idyll short. J.W., reacting just in time, foils the attempted murder of an aging former gangster, Luciano Marcus.
Marcus, who lives in a magnificent, secluded Vineyard estate at Gay Head, understandably wants to keep the situation quiet. Suspecting island links to the assault, he persuades a somewhat reluctant J.W. to look into the matter. J. W., who would much rather just enjoy some quiet times with Zee, quickly finds himself up to his fishing rod and cooking utensils in a complex and surprising mystery.
Marcus's commission leads J.W. into the local Wampanoag Indian community, where several people apparently have reason to wish Marcus dead and gone. J.W. meets the enigmatic Bill Vanderbeck, a Wampanoag thought by some to be a shaman, and he must also confront a man from his own distant past, the mysterious Joe Begay, who once saved J.W.'s life. Now, on the Vineyard, Joe is married to a member of a well-known Wampanoag family.
It's an intriguing case with many elements, but J.W. worries that it could also mean danger for Zee, who saw the face of one of the would-be assassins.
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Philip R. Craig is associate professor of English at Wheelock College in Boston.From Kirkus Reviews:
Yet another good-natured, lethargic chronicle of the days and nights of ex-Boston cop J.W. Jackson, this time honeymooning with gorgeous nurse Zee Madeiras (A Case of Vineyard Poison, 1995, etc.) in his Martha's Vineyard cottage. A trip to Boston to see a production of Carmen puts J.W. on the scene as, leaving the theater, someone takes a shot at rich, secretive fellow islander Luciano Marcus. J.W. saves the former gangster's life, but the shooter escapes, and once back on the island, Marcus hires J.W. to find the culprit. A rundown on Marcus produces several possibilities: someone from his distant, mob-related, lucrative past; one of the local Wampanoag Indian tribe claiming ownership of a cranberry bog that's part of Marcus's extensive island estate; a local fisherman with a grudge against Marcus's equipment-damaging trawler fleet; or a member of his family impatient for a huge legacy--such as grandson Vinnie, who's been hauled back from the mainland fleshpots to work on the Marcus land and to be spoiled by Marcus's sweet wife Angela. While exploring these ideas--leisurely- -J.W. cooks up a storm; fishes, clams and sails with Zee; renews an old Vietnam comradeship; hears lots of boring philosophy from shaman Bill Vanderbeck, and encourages Zee to practice riflery and pack a gun. His slow, ruminative approach finally pays off, and life can resume its sleepy course. A comfortable companion for a day at the beach or summer dreaming on a cold winter's night. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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