REAL MAINE FOOD: 100 PLATES FROM FISHERMEN, FARMERS, PIE CHAMPS AND CLAM SHACKS

By Ben Conniff and Luke Holden

Rizzoli, 2015

223 pages, $35

When I first learned to cook, even the dogs left town. But then, I didn’t have Ben Conniff and Luke Holden’s new cookbook to help me.

These two young restaurateurs (Holden is from Maine; Conniff is not) own Luke’s Lobster Shacks, which feature Maine recipes and Maine-sourced products. “Real Maine Foods” is their well-packaged and fun effort to proudly promote “Maine’s edible bounty.”

The book has four chapters emphasizing shellfish, fin fish, farm products (meats, vegetables, fruits) and Maine-grown grains. “From the Shell” offers recipes for lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, scallops, oysters and mussels. This chapter also includes fascinating information and recipes using kelp, “a nutritional goldmine.” Learn here how to make a rich, flavorful lobster broth for lobster stew.

“From the Line” showcases recipes for sea bass, bluefish, haddock, mackerel, salmon and smelt, and includes a wonderful recipe for Portuguese fish stew and a handy sidebar, “How to Clean a Whole Fish.”

The chapter on farm products highlights pork, corned beef and lamb, as well as potatoes, beans, kale, butternut squash, apples and blueberries. Sidebars tell of the 24 varieties of potatoes grown at the Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, and of the Heritage apples at Palermo’s Super Chilly Apple Farm.

The chapter on grains describes Maine-grown grains milled at the Somerset Grist Mill in Skowhegan — such as wheat, buckwheat, rye and rolled oats — and used in recipes for Johnny cakes, ployes, pancakes, pie crusts, doughnuts, scones and tarts.

Short essays also tell of obscure Maine food product producers such as the aquaculture efforts of True North Salmon, North Haven Oysters and Bands Island Mussels, as well as Stonington Seafood’s smoked finnan haddie and the Abenaki flint corn grown at the Songbird Farm in Starks.

The recipes are elegantly simple and are uniquely Maine, and that equals good eating.

THE FISHERMAN

By Vaughn Hardacker

Skyhorse Publishing, 2015

336 pages, $16.99

Maine has some excellent crime-thriller writers and Vaughn Hardacker is turning out to be one of them.

“The Fisherman” is his fifth thriller, following “Sniper” (Skyhorse, 2014). Hardacker lives in Stockholm, Maine, where he puts together interesting plots with cop crime action and colorful characters.

This is not really a mystery; rather, it is a crime-thriller. Early on the reader knows all the players and their motives, so the story then follows a violent collision course between the good guys and the bad guys, with the reader watching all the fast-paced moves to see how high the body count will be at the end. And it’s got a terrific, exciting ending.

Hardacker has a good ear for dialogue and a good eye for action, weaving a creepy plot with a serial killer’s diabolical plans and the detectives’ desperate investigative moves.

Dozens of women have disappeared from Boston’s streets and nobody seems to care. After all, prostitutes, drug addicts and the homeless are disposable, hardly missed. They are the perfect targets of a determined killer called the Fisherman.

Retired Boston homicide cops Mike Houston and Anne Bouchard are now private detectives living in Maine. They find themselves searching for a missing Boston hooker, revealing a much larger and more deadly case than they ever dreamed.

Their investigation is complicated, so they ask an old Boston mobster pal, Jimmy O’Leary, for his unique brand of help. Jimmy is resourceful, efficient and brutal, but he does get results. Now, however, Mike and Anne are locked in a life-or-death struggle with the Fisherman, and Jimmy is in a war with the Russian mafia.

Clever detective work, surprising twists, miraculous escapes and a coolly proficient sniper make this a fun, lethal read.

Hardacker’s next thriller will be “Black Orchid” in 2016.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.