Ragbagger Press (2014)
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (4/15)
“The Vineyard” by Michael Hurley opens with a woman plotting her suicide, as she’s been doing for over a year. Quickly the lives of three friends who have been separated since college intertwine so that all of their stories are connected in the most surprising ways. Charlotte, Dory and Turner reconnect as if they’ve never been separated, but there are stories they would rather keep to themselves. Charlotte can’t get past the death of her child, who was never baptized. Turner’s failed marriage and lack of funds leave her to create false words on the internet. Dory is the poor, rich girl who hasn’t married yet, but is starting to falter under her mother’s pressure. The setting is Martha’s Vineyard, Dory’s house.
The author wastes no time introducing more mystery. Enoch, the infamous fisherman, becomes a main character, although the number of times he speaks is limited to probably less than a dozen. Somehow, when no one else can, he is able to bring in the most amazing, tasty shrimp the islanders have ever experienced, but as the story unfurls, we learn his talents are not limited to the sea.
Where there are miracles, there are doubters. Where there are churches, there are priests. And with these there can be faith, a lack of faith or a questioning of faith entirely. All three of these options are felt by the characters. As a reader, you can’t help but wonder, “What would I do in that situation? What would I believe?” As in every good mystery, there is a bad guy. In this one, Smoke is a creep and he just gets creepier as the story goes on. He is a wheeler-dealer kind of guy who seems to coerce everyone in his path so he gets his way. Trip, his best bud, is always at his beck and call.
The story carried me along as it became more and more involved. I bought into the characters and their relationships. I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to stay up late and find out what would happen to Enoch. I loved that the three women had each other’s backs and always would.
I can recommend “The Vineyard” by Michael Hurley as a solid beach read. While reading it, I wanted to eat fresh shrimp and walk on the hot sand. But this is not a light read, it is an in-depth captivating story that leaves you wondering how it all could have possibly happened. With the colorful characters and multiple mysteries, I could see this on the big screen. With three big female leads, a great location and a handsome mystery man, it would be a winner!