For many of us, bombarded daily by drive by stereo blasts and out of control partying neighbors, the latest Martha's Vineyard vigilante would be a hero. In a time when basic human consideration of others seems to have gone by the wayside, the individual dubbed "the Silencer" by many appeals to J. W. Jackson's sensibilities as the individual goes around the island permanently silencing those who play excessively loud music. Or at least, what passes for music these days. But when his young daughter, Diana, unwittingly witnesses a murder he isn't nearly as amused or complacent.
The victim Diana saw, while on the family's sailboat, as something indistinguishable falling was Ollie Mattes who was acting as night watchman for a home under construction. Hated by its neighbors and the local homeowners association, Ron Pierson's extravagant future mansion sat at the top of the North Neck bluffs on one end of Chappaquidick. The multi story home had been the site of repeated vandalism, the most recent being the destruction of all the windows. Now it had become the site of murder as well as Ollie Mattes was bludgeoned and pitched over the edge to smash into the rocks along the shoreline below.
Before long, J.W. is once again dragged into investigating crime and murder on the Vineyard. With a cast of suspects an arm long and many of them interrelated by birth or marriage, J.W. works hard to uncover a killer who continues to lash out and kill for reasons eluding both the police and J. W.
This is the fifteenth in the series and as such, long time readers of this cozy series know exactly what to expect. J. W. will ask a lot of questions of everyone as he investigates, he will take small children to crime scenes, he will always find time to fish, and of course, tastefully romp with the delectable Zee. Overall, life is pretty good in J.W.'s world, frequent crime and murder not withstanding and the summer season with its horde of tourists isn't quite here yet. The children, Joshua, who is now in second grade and his young sister, Diana, will walk, talk, and think like miniature adults in a way that no remotely realistic children, short of being robotic empowered and non human, ever would. In the end, everything will be solved, the guilty will confess all before attempting to finish J.W. off, and life goes on in perfect familial harmony.
More simplistic than some earlier in the series, this novel continues the overall weaker style of the last half dozen or so (with the strong exception of "A Vineyard Killing") as the author doggedly continues to work a series that long ago ceased to be complicated, creative or remotely realistic in terms of character portrayals. When compared to the earlier ones in the series and with expectations for better books created by "A Vineyard Killing," it truly is a shame.
Murder At A Vineyard Mansion (A Martha's Vineyard Mystery) By Philip R. Craig www.philiprcraig.com Scribner www.simonsays.com 2004 ISBN # 0-7432-4676-4 Hardback 256 Pages $24.00 US $35.00 Canada