15 INTERESTING HISTORIC SITES TO VISIT ALONG THE COAST AND RIVERS OF MAINE
By David B. MacNab
Maine Authors Publishing, 2013
86 pages, $17.95
ISBN 978-1-938883-61-3

 

A wise British politician once said: “A country losing touch with its own history is like an old man losing his glasses, a distressing sight, at once vulnerable, unsure and easily distracted.”

For that reason, it is important for Mainers to know their own state history, and David MacNab’s first book is a clever travel guide featuring 15 historic sites along the Maine coast and its rivers — from far Down East at an early French settlement on St. Croix Island near Calais, south to Fort McClary (c.1808) at Kittery Point.

This slim volume is a handy reference for finding such interesting places as the Whaleback Shell Midden near Damariscotta, where ancient people 2,000 years ago gathered to harvest shellfish, and the Percy and Small Shipyard at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath where the great schooners were built from 1897 to 1920. Nine of the sites highlight forts and blockhouses reflecting Maine’s military history from colonial times to the Civil War.

The book is well-organized, providing detailed information on directions, access, admission, contact data and unique details such as parking availability and whether the sites are open seasonally or all year. MacNab also wisely includes descriptions and histories of the sites.

Learn how and why forts and blockhouses were built, why a Civil War vice president of the United States also served as the company cook in a Maine militia unit, what it was like to be imprisoned in the Old York Gaol in 1656 and about the American traitor who rested at Fort Western in Augusta in 1775.

For more interesting reading about Maine history, see “Rivers of Fortune: Where Tides and Money Flowed” by Bill Caldwell (Downeast Books, 1983) and “Eminent Mainers” by Arthur Douglas Stover (Tilbury House, 2006).

 

FINAL SETTLEMENT: A DARBY FARR MYSTERY
By Vicki Doudera
Midnight Ink, 2013
325 pages, $14.99
ISBN 978-0-7387-3428-6

 

Lorraine Delvecchio is a neat, mousy woman with hyperthymesia — the uncanny ability to remember everything. Otherwise an unremarkable woman, maybe it is her memory that gets her killed. But dead she is, and most folks in Hurricane Harbor, Maine, can’t figure out why. Five people know, and they’re not talking.

“Final Settlement” is Camden author Vicki Doudera’s fourth book in her mystery series (after “Deadly Offer”) featuring real estate agent and amateur sleuth Darby Farr. Doudera is herself a mid-coast realtor as well as a mystery writer.

Despite several unconvincing scenes and detail inconsistencies, this is an entertaining mystery — fun to read and easy to follow, with just enough suspense and action to keep everyone guessing.

Darby is back in her hometown to attend the February wedding of her best friend, Tina. Lorraine’s death, however, puzzles the local police chief who asks for Darby’s help in discovering the truth. The investigating detective concludes Lorraine’s death was accidental, but Darby and the chief don’t believe it.

Wedding preparations during a bitterly cold Maine blizzard are no fun, but the tragic result of a deadly cop shooting convinces Darby that her hunch is right — Lorraine was murdered, but why?

As she follows some cryptic clues, she learns that lots of people are happy to see Lorraine dead for a wide variety of reasons, and everyone is lying. A coded journal leads her to an unusual list of suspects with seemingly nothing in common.

A curious and lethal side plot — unrelated to Lorraine’s murder — surfaces that puts Darby’s life in jeopardy. But Lorraine’s killer has murdered again, and Darby may be the next victim. Nobody here gets killed over a real estate deal gone bad. The real motive for murder is much more basic, insidious and dangerous.

 

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.