cover image Off Season

Off Season

Philip R. Craig. Scribner Book Company, $20 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19617-6

As fisherman/sleuth J. W. Jackson gets increasingly adept in the kitchen, this Martha's Vineyard series brings Martha Stewart to mind, but the fun remains as Jackson proves he can still finger a murderer as deftly as he opens oysters. At issue here is 50 acres of land, coveted by hunters and animal-rights activists. Although the loud-mouthed leaders of both groups seem destined for homicide, the man who dies is an eccentric recluse with few enemies, a surprising way with the ladies, some strange sexual aids in his cabin and a bow and arrow, which is the weapon that kills him. The victim's link to the land squabble is his friendship with the daughter of an animal-rights supporter whose husband has political aspirations. Meanwhile, the hunters' spokesman is attacked by a thug linked to organized crime. Jackson has his hands full: hunting down scallops, cooking up batches of kale soup and staying on an even keel with Zee, the girl of his dreams and soon-to-be wife, if their attacks of nerves don't skuttle the pending nuptials. He also has to find the killer, which he does quite handily. Although Jackson verges on smug, the beauty of Craig's ( The Woman Who Walked into the Sea ) New England settings seem to justify his hero's pride in his soup, his boat, his girlfriend and his own, considerable charm. (July)