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Authors: Philip R. Craig

Third Strike

BOOK: Third Strike
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Also by Philip R. Craig and William G. Tapply

First Light: The First Ever Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery

Second Sight: A Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery

Third Strike: A Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson Mystery

R. C

Vineyard Stalker

Delish!: The J.W. Jackson Recipes

Dead in Vineyard Sand

Vineyard Prey

Murder at a Vineyard Mansion

A Vineyard Killing

Vineyard Enigma

Vineyard Shadows

Vineyard Blues

A Fatal Vineyard Season

A Shoot on Vineyard Holiday

Death on a Vineyard Beach

A Case of Vineyard Poison

Off Season

Cliff Hanger

The Double Minded Men The Woman Who Walked into the Sea

A Beautiful Place to Die

Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn

G. T

One-Way Ticket

Out Cold

Nervous Water

Shadow of Death

A Fine Line

Past Tense

Scar Tissue

Muscle Memory

Cutter's Run

Close to the Bone

The Seventh Enemy

The Snake Eater

Tight Lines

The Spotted Cats

Client Privilege

Dead Winter

A Void in Hearts

The Vulgar Boatman

Dead Meat

The Marine Corpse

Follow the Sharks

The Dutch Blue Error

Death at Charity's Point


Thicker than Water
(with Linda Barlow)

Bitch Creek

Gray Ghost


Those Hours Spent Outdoors

Opening Day and Other Neuroses

Home Water Near and Far

Sportsman's Legacy

A Fly Fishing Life

Bass Bug Fishing

Upland Days

Pocket Water

The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Bass

Gone Fishin'

Trout Eyes


The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit

A Half Century with the Fly Casters 1946–1996


A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2007 by Philip R. Craig and William G. Tapply

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Scribner Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

and design are trademarks of Macmillan Library Reference USA, Inc., used under license by Simon & Schuster, the publisher of this work.


Library of Congress Control Number: 2007009103

ISBN 13: 978-1-4165-5462-2

ISBN 10: 1-4165-5462-9

Visit us on the World Wide Web:

for Jane Otte and Fred Morris

Revenge, at first thought sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.

Paradise Lost

You can observe a lot by watching.


Chapter One


he first death was that of a striker named Eduardo Alvarez who, according to the morning
had been killed by an explosion he'd apparently detonated in the engine room of the
a small trimaran car and passenger ferry that had been tied up for the night in Vineyard Haven, between trips crewed by scabs trying to make some good money while the Steamship Authority ships weren't running. Alvarez had gotten his head and ribs crushed by flying pieces of metal.

“Hoist with his own petard,” said Manny Fonseca, not unsympathetically. Manny, unlike many on Martha's Vineyard, wasn't angry with the striking crewmen who had caused the ferries of the Steamship Authority to grind to a halt in mid-August, just as 100,000 summer visitors wanted to leave the island so their kids could return to school. And unlike many a quoter of Shakespeare, Manny, who lived, breathed, bought, sold, repaired, shot, and probably dreamed of guns, actually knew what a petard was.

Zee and I and the kids were sitting with Manny in the Dock Street Coffee Shop, finishing breakfast and reading the Boston paper, which had just broken the news of Alvarez's death. Zee had dined on a bagel and one fried egg with her tea. The kids and I had had full-bloat breakfasts: juice, coffee for me and milk for Joshua and Diana, sausage links, eggs over light, fried potatoes, and toast.

“Sounds like this fellow Alvarez messed up the timing device,” I said. “It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened.”

Up until now, the strike hadn't meant much to me because my family was little affected by it. We lived in the Vineyard woods, ate a lot of fish and shellfish we caught from island waters, and grew most of our vegetables. We had no need to go to the mainland and less need than most for the goods normally brought in from there. Alvarez's death had changed our attitude. What had previously been akin to comic theater had suddenly become tragedy.

Manny finished his coffee. “This is not going to make things any easier for the union, J.W. They already got more enemies than they need. I'm on their side, though.”

“How come?” asked Zee. “You're not a union man. You work alone.”

“True enough,” said Manny, who was a fine cabinet maker and finish carpenter and owned his own shop, “but I'm always for the workers instead of the bosses. The people who do the real work on every job get paid chicken feed, while the people who do the least live highest on the hog. Always been that way and probably always will be, but I don't have to like it. Well, I'm out of here. See you later.” He put money on top of his tab and started to walk toward the door, then paused, turned, and said, “We still on for tomorrow morning, Zee?”

“Nine o'clock,” she said.

Manny nodded and went away.

“You have another competition coming up?” I asked Zee.

“Up in New Hampshire in a couple of weeks,” she said. “If I can get off the island by then, that is.” She drank the last of her tea and touched her lips with her napkin. “I'm a little rusty.”

Even a rusty Zee was a better shot than I would ever be, though I'd briefly been a soldier and later on a cop with the Boston PD. Manny was her pistol instructor, and she was his prize pupil. At home, Zee kept her trophies in the guest room closet.

“Does he still want you to try out for the Olympics?” I said.

“The subject comes up pretty often. He's bringing his Feinwerkbau tomorrow, so I can see what I think of it.”


“It might be fun to try out,” she said. “I haven't decided. I'd have to be away from home.”

“The kids and I can get along without you for a while.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I know.” She smiled the smile that still melted me after ten years of marriage, and put her nose back in the paper. “One thing this is going to do,” she added, “is bring Joe Callahan here to try to mediate this strike before there's any more violence. Too bad he didn't get here before a man got killed.”

I agreed. Joe Callahan, in spite of a couple of foreign policy blunders early in his first term as president, had emerged from Washington with an almost JFK-like halo around his head. If he hadn't mistaken a young African revolutionary for a potential savior of his country instead of a worse dictator than the one he'd replaced, and if he'd been quicker to cut off the aid the preceding administration had given to right-wing militias in Central America, he might have been granted sainthood. In spite of those and other flaws in his record, however, he still had a major influence in politics because both workers and bosses trusted him. And because of his fondness for the Vineyard, his favorite vacation site during his presidency, he had reportedly been watching the strike with interest and concern. The explosion and Alvarez's death had made it certain, according to the press, that he'd soon be here to help end the standoff.

The waitress came by. “More coffee?”

I put my hand over my empty cup. “Not for me, Jenny. Is this strike having any effect on your business?”

“You mean are we running out of bacon and eggs?” She shook her head. “Not yet. I hope it ends pretty soon, though. This man's death isn't going to help things, and the August people are already getting restless.”

Actually, many of the August people were getting angry, which was bad news for the police, since under the best of circumstances the island's August visitors are more trouble than the June people or the July people. Just why this is so is a matter of ongoing debate, but it's a fact that no cop on the Vineyard looks forward to the coming of the August people.

And now, thanks to the striking ferry crewmen, those August people were trapped on the island. The middle class and the poor among them, that is. Rich visitors and residents were barely inconvenienced by the strike, since they could afford to fly or take their own boats back and forth between the island and the mainland.

The arguments about the strike were the usual ones. The prostrike faction—a minority on Martha's Vineyard, where unions were few and antiunion sentiment was strong—held that the strikers were more than due an increase in wages, job security, and benefits, especially since they'd been working for over a year without a new contract. The antistrike faction, the vast majority of Vineyarders—or at least the far noisier portion—compared the strikers to Communists, socialists, and other suckers of the public blood, and opined that they should all be fired on the spot and replaced, some said, by members of the island's large Brazilian community, who would be glad to work for a lot less money and who could certainly do the crewmen's jobs at least as well as the strikers, which wasn't saying much. There was also a lot of talk that the strikers were not only ruining a perfect island summer, but were also wrecking the island's reputation and thereby destroying the future livelihood of everyone dependent upon the tourist economy, which meant most of the Vineyard's permanent population.

Patients with medical problems had difficulty getting to their doctors on the Cape. Store shelves emptied and prices climbed. There were concerns about depletions in the supply of gasoline and propane, even though those fuels were brought to the island by vessels and barges having nothing to do with the ferry strike. To no one's surprise, the canny fuel suppliers had also jacked up their prices, justifying the raises by arguing that as other prices went up, their costs also went up, and they couldn't afford to hold the line on their own products.

There had been pushing and shoving between strikers and antiunion men, along with name calling, threats—reportedly, mostly anonymous phone calls—and more than one fistfight, mostly in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the only two island towns with bars where angry people could become fighting drunks. There had been those stories in the papers that Joe Callahan was being asked to mediate the strike but was holding back, hoping that the parties could resolve it themselves. But now there was a dead man, and the latest scuttlebutt was that Callahan would soon be using his charm and political savvy to bring labor and management to a rapid agreement.

Though most people were unhappy with the strike and hoped for a rapid resolution, there were a number of other people who wished that it would last forever. These were the owners and leasers of the boats, mostly trawlers and draggers and other fishing craft, that now shuttled back and forth between the island and the mainland bearing people and goods. They were making more money than they'd ever been able to make on the fishing grounds.

The larger of the fishing boats, including the largest of them all, the big and burly
carried cars on their decks. Their owners charged astronomical prices for the service, but these being abnormal times, drivers clenched their teeth and paid their pennies to the ferryman.

Island merchants also paid through the nose for the goods they required to remain in business and passed the costs on to their customers, who had no choice but to pay up in their turn.

Privately owned barges were busy carrying fuel, semitrailer trucks loaded with lumber, housing modules, and everything else imaginable. The water between the island and the mainland was a highway of commerce, but in spite of all the traffic, there were not enough private boats to carry many of the August people and their automobiles back to America.

A few island visitors actually enjoyed being stranded. It heightened their feelings of excitement and made their vacations seem like genuine adventures, akin to being shipwrecked on a desert island or being in a castle threatened by an army outside its curtained walls. All this, of course, without their being in any real danger. They even had excuses for not going back to work. What could be better?

For most tourists and year-round islanders, however, tempers rose.

But mine did not, nor did those of my family, because we lived lives mostly centered on ourselves, our cats, Oliver Underfoot and Velcro, and our immediate friends, not upon the larger world. To us, the strike had been something like a theater production, a noisy drama with us in balcony seats looking down upon it from afar.

Until now. Now death had entered, stage left, the sinister side, and everything had changed.

“Well, well,” said Zee, sticking her face farther into the newspaper. “Here's an interesting tidbit. Guess who owns the

“I haven't any idea,” I said. “Donald Trump?”

“Nope. Julius Goodcamp.”

The name seemed familiar. “Isn't Goodcamp the CEO or whatever of the Steamship Authority board? Don't tell me he owns the

“Arthur Goodcamp is the chairman, not the CEO, and it's his cousin, not Arthur, who owns the
but the idea of the chairman's cousin making money from the strike is going to raise some eyebrows.”

“We live in a complex world,” I said, wondering how many people already knew who owned the boat.

As we left the coffee shop and climbed into my rusty old Land Cruiser, Zee became thoughtful. “Manny was right,” she said. “This is bad for the union. People will paint the guys with a broad brush. They'll be seen as terrorists, willing to blow up boats to get their way. Most people will think this dead man deserved what he got.”

I thought she was right. On the other hand, some of the more fanatic union people and leftist revolutionary types, of which there was a fair share on the island, would think of Alvarez as a martyr. I said as much to Zee.

“I know,” she said, “but the crewmen and their wives that I've met aren't the martyr types. They're just working people. They went on strike because they want to get ahead. I wish this Alvarez guy hadn't decided to do what he did. Sabotage isn't the answer. He not only killed himself, he just made things worse for the strikers.”

We pulled out of the parking lot in front of the yacht club, inched across Dock Street, being careful not to run over any of the tourists who use Edgartown streets as sidewalks, eased up to North Water, took a left onto Winter Street, thence to Pease's Point Way, then right on Main, and on out of town. As we passed the Post Office, the morning traffic eased.


“What, Joshua?”

“Is somebody really dead?”


“Who is it?”

“We don't know him,” I said. “A man named Alvarez.”

“What happened to him?”

“He was killed in an explosion.”


“Last night, according to the

“I know a girl named Mary Alvarez,” said Diana. “She's in my class.” She paused, then said, “She's my friend.”

In the fall, Diana would be in the second grade. I supposed there were a lot of Alvarezes on the island.

“Didn't Mary come over to play in the tree house?” asked Zee. “Doesn't she have yellow hair and brown eyes?”

“Yes,” said Diana. “She's really pretty, and she has nice dresses.”

Diana was a miniature of her mother, and like Zee, had little consciousness of her own beauty, though she had a sharp eye for the looks of others.

BOOK: Third Strike
9.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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