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on December 20, 2000
This is one of the few mysteries that I've ever read and it is a terrifiic story! JW and Zee and their children are so refreshing. After reading the book, I feel like I've actually met them. And Corrie is such a laid back old soul--I loved him. This wonderful author doesn't overdo the detective into some kind of super-motcho man--JW is an everyday kind of guy with a family that he also has time for; his career just happens to be looking for evidence and then putting it together and come up with a solution. The story involves college students rooming in houses that are not kept up by the landlord. He owns the houses for the profit made on them. Some of the college students get a little too rapped up in their partying and sometimes revenge to each other. Then throw in arson and there's a story to make you read til you find out if it's arsen or fate and who's behind it all--if anyone is. Really a super story. The author keeps you reading because you're always "just about to find out more".
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on September 28, 2000
I fell in love with J.W. and his Vineyard several books ago. Recently, though, I've found Craig's stories weak to the point of boring.
With the wife came responsibility and predictability. J.W. has changed, and he just doesn't offer the excitement he used to. Now that he has two children, the sleuth is just another dad, lugging car seats and buying ice cream. It's interesting, almost funny, how precocious Craig makes these little darlings, shaking hands and exhibiting perfect manners, even to the bad guys. I couldn't help but think, every time these kids refer to their parents as "Ma" and "Pa", that I was back to "Little House on the Prairie". Maybe that's a better title..."Little House on the Vineyard."
Please, Mr. Craig, get rid of this little family. They could all fall off the boat and drown. They could be kidnaped by terrorists and never returned. Anything. Just bring back the old J.W. and his adventures - minus the missus and the diaper bag.
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on September 25, 2000
Vineyard Blues is the second of the Martha's Vineyard mysteries that I have read [Death on a Vineyard Beach being the first] and like the first, Blues is long on scenery, fishing and familial insights. Sort of short on mystery, though. I'm not sure I like the idea of J.W. letting his two children tag along on investigations and business calls, especially his son at the sight of an arson fire. Too many chances for a young one to get hurt.
Having visited Martha's Vineyard I enjoyed re-visiting some of the island spots, but I thought the mystery plot itself could have been more meaty, and I was disaapointed that the two Kline brothers [1 a slumlord, 1 into kinky behavior - both into abusing women] were not dealt with a bit more severely for their roles in the lives of some of the island's female population. And I never did figure out just what purpose the sub-plot of the Quick's played in the book, except to fill some pages.
Vineyard Blues is a cozy beach read or for Vineyard dreaming in the middle of winter.
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on June 30, 2000
This is a good book for summer reading, whether crashed out in a beach chair or just spending a quiet evening at home. It is an early book in what could be a promising new series of mysteries, introducing an interesting cast of players. The chief protagonist is J.W. Jackson, on a medical retirement from the Boston police department, who lives on Martha's Vineyard with his wife, two young children, and two cats. He has the opportunity to earn a little extra money by investigating the fires that have destroyed some run-down summer rental units owned by a local attorney. Events quickly become more complicated when a blues man, an old friend of his late father, disappears the evening of one of the fires; and J.W.'s investigation dredges up information on some individuals kinky sexual preferences. He also finds an unexpected ally. The book is hard to put down, but a length that is easy to read in an evening. As a bonus, the book contains three recipes. It also includes a map of Martha's Vineyard for readers unfamiliar with the island.
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on June 27, 2000
J.W. Jackson has definitely mellowed since his marriage to Zee and the birth of their two children. Now when J.W. is following the bad guys he as often as not has one or both children in tow. In this latest mystery from Martha's Vineyard, he has a reunion with Corrie Appleyard, a blues-playing musician who was a friend of his father's. Corrie is staying with the grandson of a friend in one of the dilapidated old houses which are rented to unwary college students who just want a place on the island which they can afford. The landlord and his brother have made a lot of enemies and it is not surprising when some of their houses are burned. The arson becomes too close for comfort when the house Corrie was staying in is burned and a dead body is found inside. J.W. spends the rest of the book trying to solve the mysteries of who burned down the houses and who died in the last fire. A subplot concerns a friend of Zee's who is receiving threatening phone calls from an unknown man. Enjoyable summer reading!
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on May 13, 2000
J.W. Jackson used to be a soldier before an injury forced him out of the service. He joined the Boston Police Department before a bullet forced him into an early retirement. He next moved to Martha's Vineyard to escape most of the evil element that permeates much of the world. He married a nurse and they had children who they now teach how to be good people. J.W. accepts temporary work whenever he can find it while Zee works a shift at the local hospital. They are not wealthy, but are happy.

When a slumlord asks J.W. to learn the identity of the arsonist torching his buildings, he reluctantly accepts the job. Ben Krane is a bail bondsman, lawyer, and real estate developer. He rents property that is not up to standard to college students looking to have a good time. J.W. finds a host of suspects, but no one he can clearly accuse. As he digs deeper, he begins to learn things about people close to him that he would have preferred not to know.

Sometimes a well-written story contains no obvious villains or heroes just human beings trying to do the right thing in an imperfect world. Phillip R. Craig shows he is a potent storyteller by accomplishing just that with VINEYARD BLUES, a tale with quite an impact on the reader. J.W. is an enigmatic yet likable person who the audience will find appealing. The children's interactions with the adults ring true and add depth to an emotionally charged story line and that will help make this novel a triumph for Mr. Craig.

Harriet Klausner
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on July 20, 2001
Sorry, but I have to agree with the "Go away, Zee" reviewer. Any new M.V. book by Philip R. Craig used to be automatically bought by me, but now I've had it with J.W. Jackson. There is hardly any plot left, instead there are innumerable repetitions of Zee's equally innumerable perfections. If there ever was a "heroine" female readers couldn't identify with, Zee wins the contest hands down. In the older stories Zee with or without kids used to be shipped off to the mainland or somewhere else whenever the story got really interesting, or J.W. went away on his own as he did in "Cliff hanger". Those days are gone, regrettably. Unless there is a drastic change, I'm sure I'll be a faithful reader of these stories no longer.
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on April 15, 2002
I think it's the children that are ruining this series. Like so many other readers I used to love these books. However, I'm sorry, but I don't find them believable at all. I have 5 kids of my own, all grown up but I can remember having small kids around. Never were there such perfectly mannered tots, such paragons of precocity & good behavior as Josh & Diana. Not to mention the "Pa" & "Ma" bit is irritating in tne extreme as well. It really surprises me that these stories have deteriorated to the extent that they have; I never would have expected it. Zee is bad enough, but the addition of the kids has been fatal to the former high quality writing.
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on February 18, 2004
Having enjoyed visiting Martha's Vineyard a few times, I was intrigued to read Philip Craig's books after reading an article about him in the Boston Globe. To date I've read nine of his stories and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. I pass them on to my Son who owns a home on the Vineyard and he appreciates them, too. In Vineyard Blues, the inclusion of Zee and the children are a natural-seeming progression of "J.W.s" journey. It is refreshing to read how he and Zee realize that their children are their #1 priority and adjust their lives accordingly. I look forward to each new installment. Keep them coming, Mr. Craig.
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