Read Death on a Vineyard Beach Online

Authors: Philip R. Craig

Death on a Vineyard Beach

“READING PHILIP R. CRAIG IS ARMCHAIR
TRAVELING AT ITS FINEST.”

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

DEATH ON A VINEYARD BEACH

“THERE'S REAL CRIME HERE, GREED, BETRAYAL
AND MURDER TIED IN A PLAUSIBLE PUZZLE, but
Craig's series owes most of its charm to the Vineyard
and his intelligent, likable characters.”

Publishers Weekly

“JUST THE COMPANION FOR A DAY ON THE
BEACH OR IN THE BACKYARD HAMMOCK . . .
Close your eyes and imagine that Robert Parker's
Spencer had to enter the witness protection program.
Now his name is J.W. Jackson, and he is
summering on Martha's Vineyard.”

Mystery News

“APPEALING… The humanization of the gangster
family, the peeks behind the Vineyard facades, and the
beach environment will win those who like their reading
to be as leisurely as a long summer's afternoon.”

Boston Herald

“ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED WRITERS IN
THE GENRE… Craig is a consummate storyteller.”

Murder & Mayhem

Martha's Vineyard Mysteries by
Philip R. Craig

V
INEYARD
P
REY

M
URDER AT A
V
INEYARD
M
ANSION

A V
INEYARD
K
ILLING

V
INEYARD
F
EAR

V
INEYARD
D
ECEIT

D
EATH IN
V
INEYARD
W
ATERS

V
INEYARD
E
NIGMA

V
INEYARD
S
HADOWS

V
INEYARD
B
LUES

A F
ATAL
V
INEYARD
S
EASON

A S
HOOT ON
M
ARTHA's
V
INEYARD

A D
EADLY
V
INEYARD
H
OLIDAY

D
EATH ON A
V
INEYARD
B
EACH

A C
ASE OF
V
INEYARD
P
OISON

O
FF
S
EASON

A B
EAUTIFUL
P
LACE TO
D
IE

SCRIBNER

A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 1996 by Philip R. Craig
Published by arrangement with Scribner
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-45861
ISBN: 0-380-72873-7
ISBN: 978-1-4391-0508-5 (eBook)

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Scribner Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Scribner hardcover edition April 2012

SCRIBNER
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Printed in the U.S.A.

For two of the Other Women in my life:
my agent, Jane Otte, and my editor, Susanne Kirk,
who forgive my literary trespasses
but don't let me get away with them.

“… On the trees no leaf is seen
Nor are the meadows growing green,
Birds build no nest, no song is sung,
And hapless beasts shall bear no young,
So is it while the sinful king
Shall evil on his people bring.
For Jesus Christ does punish well
The land wherein the wicked dwell.”

SONE DE NANSAI
, 11.4848-56

  
1
  

Zee and I got married at noon on July 13, a date artfully chosen by me in the hope that since it was my birthday, one of the four dates I usually remembered—the others being New Year's Day, Christmas, and the Fourth of July—I had a fighting chance of recollecting my anniversary in the future.

It was a beautiful Martha's Vineyard day, with a warm sun in a cloudless sky, and a gentle north wind to keep things comfortable for all of us who had abandoned our summer shorts and had dressed up for the occasion. There were people with regular cameras and video cameras moving around shooting pictures. Apparently we were going to get the whole thing on record.

We were in our friend John Skye's yard, between the farmhouse and the barn, and there were more people there than I had thought we knew. My sister and her husband were there, in from Santa Fe; the Muleto family—Zee's parents and brothers and the brothers' wives—had all come over from Fall River and New Bedford. And there were island people, friends of Zee's and friends of mine, including the chief of the Edgartown police and some other cops. It was quite a crowd.

The justice of the peace performed the ceremony, and a young liberal Catholic priest, ignoring the fact that Zee wasn't Catholic anymore and I never had been, blessed the whole affair. I had met the justice of the peace, but I'd never seen the priest before. He was the work of Maria, Zee's very religious mother, who, when unable to convince her daughter to have a church wedding, arranged a compromise and brought in the priest to make things as legit as possible in her God's eyes. Zee and I had each already
had one church wedding, and that seemed enough to Zee, since neither marriage had worked out in spite of the blessings of religion. This time she thought we'd try it without benefit of clergy.

The food and drink were laid out in abundance, and as soon as they could manage it, people filed by with handshakes and kisses and headed for the bar. I could hardly wait to join them.

I was in a rented summer tux, and was beginning to feel sweat trickle down my neck. Zee, in something swirling and pale blue, looked as though she'd stepped out of a magazine about brides. On her left ring finger she now wore my grandmother's engagement ring and a narrow band of matching gold. Once again I wondered why the wedding ring was on the inside of the engagement ring instead of the other way around, which made more sense to me since we'd gotten engaged before we'd gotten married. I decided I'd not ask that question today.

A young woman came by. “Hi,” she said to me. “I'm Maggie Vanderbeck. Congratulations!” She kissed Zee and went on her way.

Zee said: “Maggie volunteers at the hospital when she's home from college and isn't working in her sister's shop.”

“One of the Gay Head Vanderbecks?”

“One of the very same.”

“Congratulations,” said the chief, who was the last one through the reception line. He kissed Zee and shook my hand.

“An honest woman, at last,” grinned Zee. “Is it true that you're going deer hunting in Maine this fall? Word has it that you just got yourself a brand-new 30.06.”

“Yeah,” said the chief. “I have it zeroed in at a hundred and fifty yards. I plan on venison for Christmas dinner.” He looked down at my wedding ring and then back up into my face. “The smartest thing you've done since I've known you, J. W. It's good for a man to be married. It's the way things are supposed to be.”

The chief had been married over thirty years, and like most such long-married men couldn't imagine a better life. Neither could I.

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