Craig, Philip R. 1933–

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Craig, Philip R. 1933–

PERSONAL: Born December 10, 1933, in Santa Monica, CA; son of Platt Perry (a rancher) and Grace Craig; married Shirley Jane Prada, December 10, 1957; children: Kimberlie Anne, James Stuart. Education:Boston University, B.A., 1957; University of Iowa, M.F.A., 1962. Politics: Independent. Religion: "Erratic."

ADDRESSES: Home and office—Edgartown, MA. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and educator. Endicott Junior College, Beverly, MA, taught English and journalism, 1962–65; Wheelock College, Boston, MA, assistant professor of English, 1965–99; professor emeritus, 1999–. Also member of communications curriculum team for the planned community college, Boston Model Cities Program; has taught workshops on mystery writing on Cape Cod and in Arizona; guest lecturer on fiction writing at Arizona State University, the University of the Virgin Islands, Mary Washington College, Emerson College, and Dartmouth College. Worked summers at Al's Package Store, Edgartown, MA.

MEMBER: American Association of University Professors, Mystery Writers of America (served on board of directors, New England division).

WRITINGS:

"J.W. JACKSON" MYSTERY NOVELS

A Beautiful Place to Die, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.

The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea: A Jeff Jackson/Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1991.

The Double-minded Men, Scribner (New York, NY), 1992.

Cliff Hanger: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1993.

Off Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.

A Case of Vineyard Poison: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1995.

Death on a Vineyard Beach: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.

A Deadly Vineyard Holiday: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.

A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1998.

A Fatal Vineyard Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.

Vineyard Blues: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2000.

Vineyard Shadows: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.

(With William G. Tapply) First Light: The First Ever Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson, Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.

Vineyard Enigma: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.

A Vineyard Killing: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.

Murder at a Vineyard Mansion: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2004.

(With William G. Tapply) Second Sight: A Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2005.

Vineyard Prey: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2005.

Dead in Vineyard Sand: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.

(With William G. Tapply) Third Strike: A Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.

(With William G. Tapply) Vineyard Stalker: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.

OTHER

Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.

The Cox-Truby Feud (history), San Juan County Historical Society (Flora Vista, NM), 2002.

(With wife, Shirley Prada Craig) Delish!: A Martha's Vineyard Cookbook, Vineyard Stores (Edgartown, MA), 2006.

Contributor of articles and play reviews to New Bedford Standard Times; also wrote for Vineyard and Cape Cod newspapers; wrote monographs about incidents during the frontier period of Southwest Colorado, including The Death of Ike Stockton, The Center For Southwestern Studies, Ft. Lewis College, Durango, CO. Papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University. Cliffhanger was published in Czechoslovakia.

ADAPTATIONS: Books have been made into sound recordings, including The Woman Who Walked into the Sea, A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard, Vineyard Blues, Vineyard Enigma, Murder at a Vineyard Mansion, and A Vineyard Killing, Recorded Books, 2004. Several other books have been adapted as audiobooks and released by Talking Books.

SIDELIGHTS: Philip R. Craig is the creator of the popular J.W. Jackson mystery series, set on the Massachusetts resort island of Martha's Vineyard. In an article for Writer, Craig remembered that prior to starting the Jackson series, he analyzed some best-selling mysteries "to find out what successful writers were doing that I wasn't doing." He concluded that a popular mystery would have a handsome, worldly protagonist in his thirties, a beautiful heroine about ten years younger, an exotic setting, a crime and a love story, an element of big money, and a happy ending. A long-time summer resident of Martha's Vineyard, he selected that island as his locale, since he knew it well and knew that it is perceived as exotic or glamorous by many people. His detective is J.W. Jackson, once a Boston policeman, who has retired to the island after being wounded in the line of duty. Easygoing yet worldly wise, Jackson enjoys fishing, cooking, and spending time with Zee Madieras, a gorgeous nurse who is also an expert fisherman and a crack shot. But his simple pleasures are repeatedly interrupted by murder. Nevertheless, as the series progresses, J.W. and Zee eventually marry and have two children.

In The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea: A Jeff Jackson/Martha's Vineyard Mystery, an elderly academic turns up dead in a submerged fishing net. The Double-minded Men centers on a visiting dignitary, a precious antique necklace, and numerous suspicious deaths. In Off Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, hunters and animal-rights activists clash over a fifty-acre parcel of land. A Deadly Vineyard Holiday: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery has Jackson welcoming the daughter of the United States' president into his home for a few days out of the limelight, only to find that threats have been made against her life. Some reviewers have noted that the plots of Craig's novels are secondary to the local color. Reviewing A Deadly Vineyard Holiday, in Booklist, GraceAnne A. DeCandido acknowledged the mystery's "appealing" characters, but decided that "the real fun here comes in meandering across the island and its culture." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly contributor found The Double-minded Men somewhat hampered by a "B-movie story line," but advised that "the titillating romance between J.W. and Zee, J.W.'s Spenser-like interest in food, and the sensuous late-summer pleasures of the island are appealing." DeCandido described the series in a Booklist review of Vineyard Blues: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery as "insinuatingly attractive."

Craig remarked in Writer: "It's safe to say that my readers are much more interested in my characters … than they are in the crimes, plots, and puzzles in my books." He added: "They worry about them, are happy for them when things go well. I've received hundreds of letters from readers who, although they identify themselves as lovers of mysteries, almost never mention the plots or crimes or other 'mystery' elements in my books." Craig also noted: "Most readers of mysteries, I believe, are actually more interested in characters and locale than in plot, puzzle solving, or other traditional aspects of crime stories."

Craig has continued to write mysteries featuring J.W. Jackson, including Vineyard Shadows: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, in which Jackson's wife, Zee, has killed a home intruder who, along with his Boston crime partner, was looking for the husband of Jackson's first wife. Although Jackson wants to stay and console his wife, he feels his duty to go out and track down the other culprit and to protect his first wife. Rex Klett, writing in the Library Journal, called the mystery "another winner." GraceAnne E. DeCandido, writing in Booklist, noted the there was "far more emotional texture here than in past series entries."

In Vineyard Enigma: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, Jackson begins the hunt for ancient carvings stolen from Africa. When contacted by Abraham Mahsimba about the case, however, Jackson is consternated by his wife's attraction to the man and is especially sensitive because his wife has seemed so distant with him. Coming across a stolen artifact crime ring, Jackson is also faced with solving several murders associated with the case. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the "the tale picks up speed and races toward a satisfying … conclusion." Harriet Klausner, writing on the AllReaders.com Web site, commented: "The investigation is fun to follow as J.W, spins plenty of his hometown philosophy on various subjects."

Jackson becomes involved in another case when he witnesses shots fired at one of two Martha's Vineyard real estate businessmen and brothers in the mystery A Vineyard Killing: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery. Paul Fox survives the shooting because he is mysteriously wearing a bullet-proof vest. Meanwhile his shady brother, Donald, is the one angering local residents with lawsuits over property. Jackson investigates and tries to determine if the shooter was really after Donald. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that readers may figure out who the bad guy is early on but will nevertheless "hang around for bluefish season, seafood casserole (recipe included), and J.W.'s low-key island philosophizing." Another reviewer writing for Publishers Weekly called the mystery "well-constructed and well-paced, with humor and suspense." In a review in Booklist, GraceAnne E. DeCandido wrote: "J.W. is a bit more ruminative in this one, letting readers see some of how he works things out."

Jackson teamed up with William G. Tapply to write First Light: The First Ever Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson, Mystery. The novel features Jackson and author Tap-ply's own character of Brady Coyne, who is a lawyer and private detective. Told in alternating first-person narratives by the author's respective characters, the story revolves around the estate of a dying matriarch, her children, and a battle between environmentalists and developers. Furthermore, the matriarch's nurse, Molly Wood, disappears and seems very similar in description to a missing wife in a case Jackson has tackled. "Lively banter and a narrative brimming with mischief make this maiden voyage entertaining from start to stop," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In Second Sight: a Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery, The two authors tell the stories of Coyne's search for a missing teenager whom he traces to Martha's Vineyard and Jackson's stint serving as a bodyguard for a rock singer who is in town to conduct a benefit concert. The two cases eventually come together as both men are led to a cult with dangerous followers. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Voyeurs of island life and fans of both writers' series will appreciate this duet."

Craig told CA: "I've been interested in writing since I began to read at age five, and wrote small, mostly bad, poems and prose bits thereafter. In college my poetry teacher persuaded me to abandon that craft, but my prose teacher liked my stuff. Early on, it was my ambition to publish six books. I thought that if I did that I could call myself a writer, which seemed like a good thing to be. I try to write every day from nine a.m. until noon. If I do that fairly consistently I can write a novel in seven months. I think the secret of writing is to find a time and place to do it. I usually give young writers three pieces of advice: buy a computer; never give up, and keep the day job.

"I've been a little surprised by how much writing I've done, especially considering how long it took me to publish consistently. When I was fifty-five I'd been writing for thirty years but had only one book to show for it, and that was one I'd published when I was thirty-five, twenty years before. When I was fifty-five I published my second novel, and since then I've published nineteen more books and have written or cowritten two more that will be out in 2007.

"I consider myself a story teller, and I hope to entertain my readers and perhaps enlighten them in small ways."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1992, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Double-minded Men, p. 35; May 15, 1996, Stuart Miller, review of Death on a Vineyard Beach: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1571; June 1, 1997, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Deadly Vineyard Holiday: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1665; May 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1598; May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Vineyard Blues: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1614; May 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Vineyard Shadows: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1626; December 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of First Light: The First Ever Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery, p. 632; May 1, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Vineyard Killing: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1540; May 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Murder at a Vineyard Mansion: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1503; June 1, 2005, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Vineyard Prey: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 1760; June 1, 2006, Sue O'Brien, review of Dead in Vineyard Sand: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 42.

Entertainment Weekly, June 26, 1998, review of A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 119.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1997, review of A Deadly Vineyard Holiday, p. 836; May 1, 1998, review of A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard, p. 618; May 15, 1999, review of A Fatal Vineyard Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 756; November 1, 2001, review of First Light, p. 1517; April 15, 2003, review of A Vineyard Killing, p. 574; April 1, 2005, review of Vineyard Prey, p. 387; April 15, 2006, review of Dead in Vineyard Sand, p. 381.

Library Journal, January, 1991, Rex E. Klett, review of The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea: A Jeff Jackson/Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 158; July, 1992, Rex E. Klett, review of The Double-minded Men, p. 130; May 1, 1995, Rex E. Klett, review of A Case of Vineyard Poison: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 136; June 1, 1996, Rex E. Klett, review of Death on a Vineyard Beach, p. 157; May 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of A Deadly Vineyard Holiday, p. 144; May 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard, p. 143; May 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of Vineyard Shadows, p. 130; June 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Vineyard Enigma, p. 201; June 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of A Vineyard Killing, p. 172; December 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Second Sight: A Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery, p. 95.

Publishers Weekly, October 13, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of A Beautiful Place to Die, p. 46; February 8, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea, p. 50; June 8, 1992, review of The Double-minded Men, p. 55; April 26, 1993, review of Cliff Hanger: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 60; March 30, 1994, review of Off Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 38; April 24, 1995, review of A Case of Vineyard Poison, p. 63; April 14, 1997, review of A Deadly Vineyard Holiday, p. 59; April 20, 1998, review of A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard, p. 50; May 31, 1999, review of A Fatal Vineyard Season: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 70; May 1, 2000, review of Vineyard Blues, p. 52; May 7, 2001, review of Vineyard Shadows, p. 228; December 10, 2001, review of First Light, p. 54; May 13, 2002, review of Vineyard Enigma: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery, p. 55; April 28, 2003, review of A Vineyard Killing, p. 52; April 5, 2004, review of Murder at a Vineyard Mansion, p. 43; December 6, 2004, review of Second Sight, p. 46; May 2, 2005, review of Vineyard Prey, p. 179.

Writer, May, 1998, Philip R. Craig, "Characters and Locale in Crime Fiction," p. 13.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (October 4, 2006), Harriet Klausner, reviews of A Vineyard Killing, Murder at a Vineyard Mansion, Vineyard Enigma, and Vineyard Shadows.

Armchair Interviews, http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (October 4, 2006), Sharron Stockhausen, review of Vineyard Prey.

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 4, 2006), Joe Hartlaub, review of First Light.

Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (October 4, 2006), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of A Fatal Vineyard Season and Vineyard Shadows.

Phillip R. Craig Home Page, http://www.philiprcraig.com (October 4, 2006).

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Craig, Philip R. 1933–

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