Title: The Nature of the Grave – A John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery
Author: Martha Reed
Genre: Traditional Mystery
Sarah Hawthorne had no idea her life was going to change when she took a seasonal job working on Nantucket. A gifted painter, Sarah was devoted to her art until she met John Jarad, a handsome, local police lieutenant. John is deeply rooted in the charming island home his family helped to settle. As Sarah explores John’s family history, she reactivates interest in his younger brother’s cold case disappearance. A great-uncle’s surprising bequest brings family tensions to the surface, and the sudden reappearance of the missing brother shakes the Jarad family tree. A string of mysterious deaths ensues as John and Sarah forge their investigative talents to solve a sinister island conspiracy.
12 Macy Lane
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The island was flat, and the wind howled across the moors like a living thing. With no trees for protection, no hills or valleys to channel it away, it blasted into the weathered clapboards of the house, shooting icy drafts through the meager insulation, a malevolent banshee trying to force its way in.
Sarah Jarad snuggled deeper under the covers, deciding firmly that nothing had prepared her for winter on Nantucket.
Like all newcomers, Sarah had learned quickly that heating oil was an imported and precious commodity. Each morning she woke with only the tip of her cold nose showing outside the comforter. She slid out of bed, leaving the warmth of her sleeping husband, and scrambled into layers of fleece-lined clothing.
The kitchen was the only truly warm room in the house. Her grandfather from Vermont, wise with sixty years of New England winters, had shipped them a wood stove as a wedding present. Back in September, Sarah had scoffed, but now the stove held a place of honor, enthroned on the blue slate hearth. She lit a handful of driftwood sticks, bleached brittle and white like ghostly fingers. Wood was another expensive concern. A cord here cost twice what she had paid for it on the mainland, and since they were saving every dime toward the down payment on a mortgage, Sarah had taken to the beach, scavenging. John had thrown a fit when he found out what she was doing, until Sarah had proved they were saving a third of a month’s pay just on fuel. John had given in, grumbling that he had married his mother, whose thrift was legendary.
Overhead in the loft, Sarah heard John stumble out of bed. He bumped down the narrow stairwell, struggling into a rough woolen sweater. Planting himself in a chair, John ran his fingers though his hair, putting it in order. Sarah cheated the coffeemaker and set his mug on the table. As she did, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her, un-protesting, onto his lap.
“I woke up, you were already gone.” He worked his face into the folds of her bathrobe, inhaling deeply.
Sarah lifted his face in her hands and kissed him. “And good morning to you, too.”
“Is there a hurry? I don’t have to report to the station until nine.”
“I wanted to get to the bank, first thing,” Sarah rose, retying her robe and pulling a check from her pocket. “Meredith sent me a commission.”
“We’re not hurting for money.” John sat back. “The rent’s not due for another two weeks.”
“I know that, but I like seeing the money in our account. I sleep better, knowing it’s there.”
John smiled. Getting used to married life was hard enough, without discovering–after the wedding–that your wife had a phobia about bouncing checks. He had tried to explain to Sarah that the town’s automated payroll deposit system had worked without a glitch for years, but she would have none of it. She had been footloose, a gypsy, for too long. She didn’t believe the money was real until she held it in her hand. John sighed. There would be no fooling around before work this morning. He had learned to recognize that gleam in his wife’s eye. Sarah was on a mission.
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The Nature of the Grave won an Independent Publisher “IPPY” Book Award for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction.
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Runs August 9 – August 18, 2022.
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Martha Reed is a multi-award-winning crime fiction author. Her Crescent City NOLA Mystery, “Love Power” won a 2021 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and features Gigi Pascoe, a transgender sleuth. She is the author of the IPPY Book Award winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Her story, “The Honor Thief” was included in “This Time for Sure,” the Anthony Award nominated 2021 Bouchercon anthology edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan.
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