Author: Gene Pissale
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4133-4
Publisher: Outskirts Press

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 First: a word of advice to the reader.  It is not a good idea to read Vineyard Days when you are hungry and have no access to food.  Gene Pissale has two websites; one is dedicated primarily to food and wine (with a little travel throw in for good measure)  and another, which focuses on travel (with a bit of food and wine thrown in). 

 Pissale obviously knows all the better places to eat and drink on Martha’s Vineyard and he also knows which meals are better in various restaurants.  In fact, on the first page of the book the protagonist, Jim and his wife Natalie have just arrived on the island from Philadelphia and, as the book says, “Jim’s only thought on the plane was having a drink at his favorite place—the Seafood Shanty—a chance to relax and kick back …” From the Seafood Shanty, the couple go to the Wharf Pub for dinner.  The descriptions of the food and drinks are sure to start the reader’s stomach grumbling.

Vineyard Days takes the reader through spats between Jim and Natalie; through Jim’s temptations to stray from his wedding vows and their exploration of the island. It is not all relaxation and food, however.  Early in their stay they observe, from the balcony of their hotel room, the Harbor Police taking what appears to be two bodies off a huge yacht and putting a man who appears to be he yacht’s owner in handcuffs and leading him away. Everything is not peace and tranquility on Martha’s Vineyard.

Although the couple’s mood is somewhat sobered, they continue their vacation by renting bicycles for their exploration of the island.  They experience several adventures connected with their bicycling, including a fistfight on the beach.

The principal mystery/ thriller element of Vineyard Days begins when Jim and Natalie are on the beach at Gay Head and discover an expensive-looking heavy leather satchel.  On the heavy, brass buckle are the initials “C.T.”  Inside the case are soaked documents, “…probably 200-300 pages of material…” by Jim’s estimate. Later, when they meet a couple at dinner in a restaurant,  Jim mentions the case to the man, Eddy—who one of the parties to the fight on the beach—the man’s reaction to the find spooks Jim.

The book leaves the reader wanting to know more because of an ominous ending brought about by what the couple find inside the case.

I wish that the author had given us the story of the satchel found on the beach and its implications and connections earlier in the book.  It would have made for more tension in the book, but if you like a good “foodie” travelogue with a bit of suspense included, read Vineyard Days.

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