Martha’s Vineyard in the off-season: the bluefish aren’t running, but two real-estate developer brothers are when someone takes a potshot at them.
Which Fox brother was the target, Donald or Paul? Former Olympic fencer Donald and Brad Hillborough, his gimpy right-hand man and former teammate, ruthlessly sue landholders who turn down their bids. But the kindlier Paul, who is courting won’t-sell Dodie Donawa’s daughter Maria, not only has grief from his future mother-in-law but flack from Maria’s former beau, the beefy Rick Black. In the week or so after ex–Boston cop J.W. Jackson, now a laid-back odd-jobs man (Vineyard Shadows, 2001, etc.), first lays eyes on the brothers, first Paul and then Donald resorts to body armor, one of their agents is murdered, two of their more inept employees tail J.W., and the lovesick Black attacks him. Furthermore, John Reilley, who’s been keeping company with Dodie, seems to have no past—no family, no credit rating, no proof he is who he claims to be, although he emerged 40 years ago just as Spain’s Olympic hopeful, fencer Juan Diego Valentine, disappeared. In sorting through everyone’s history, J.W. stays a step ahead of Vineyard cops Agganis and Otero, but only a sidestep away from a fatal encounter with a saber.
Moderately savvy readers will nab the baddie early on, but will undoubtedly hang around for bluefish season, seafood casserole (recipe included), and J.W.’s low-key island philosophizing.