HOW TO COOK A MOOSE: A CULINARY MEMOIR

By Kate Christensen

Islandport Press, 2015

292 pages, $24.95

Famed playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) once wrote: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” And if that’s true, then Kate Christensen is deeply in love.

Portland writer Christensen is the award-winning author of her 2013 autobiography, “Blue Plate Special,” and six novels. “How To Cook A Moose” tells of her love affair with food, a charming, funny and lucid look at food, drink and life in Maine.

She really does know how to cook a moose, but this is not a cookbook. Instead, she writes about the fun and excitement of cooking and eating good food, how eating should be an act of enjoyment: “It’s a sensual as well as a social and nourishing pleasure — a triple source of happiness.”

She is no smug food snob in explaining her refreshingly honest attitude: “I’m an eater. I’m hungry. I’m a food populist, a curmedgeonly traditionalist.” And this eating journey is fun and highly entertaining.

She tells how she came to Maine in 2011, to her respect for food — “eating well is the key to health, and the health is the key to well-being” — and to her enthusiasm for all things related to food. She loves to shop for produce and meat, loves to cook and especially loves to eat.

Christensen also likes to eat at restaurants, pubs and cafes, and she provides some hilarious and eye-opening commentary on Portland and coastal restaurants, menus and service, including some spectacular duds.

Learn why that popular and cutesy truffle oil is so disgusting, what “lobster liquor” really is, what happens to moose antlers after they fall off and why the expression “full of beans” is so meaningful.

She does include a number of intriguing recipes such as those for spite and malice pizza, mock turtle soup, jellied moose nose and wicked good lamb burgers.

TRUTH BEAT

By Brenda Buchanan

Carina Press, 2016

237 pages, $3.99

A wise pundit once said, “Newspapers are just an excuse to ask questions nobody wants to answer.” And newspaper reporters are just the folks to ask those thorny questions.

Maine author Gerry Boyle started the news reporter mystery genre with his popular Jack McMorrow series back in the 1990s. Now Portland attorney (and former reporter) Brenda Buchanan adds her take on the newsman sleuth with her third mystery featuring the forever curious and persistent Joe Gale, reporter for the “Portland Daily Chronicle.”

The first two mysteries, “Quick Pivot” and “Cover Story,” were released in 2015. All three mystery novels are e-books available on Kindle.

This is a fast-paced mystery, loaded with clever clues, a few red herrings and some subtle plot twists that a sharp reader will spot. There is also a good deal of suspense set in identifiable Portland and Bangor locales.

Joe is a reporter in the southern Maine town of Riverside, near Portland. Single, savvy and dedicated, he is the bad boy of the newsroom, quick to act, wicked smart and plenty tough. He is covering two sensational stories: exploding bombs at the high school and the murder of a popular Catholic priest.

Father Doherty was a sharp critic of the church’s sex abuse scandals, and he was in charge of closing parishes and disposing of church property to pay off lawsuits. He was a lightning rod for public protest, harsh criticism and vicious threats. And how he’s dead.

Joe and his plumber pal, Rufe, smell a rat as they dig into the priest’s past, family, current relationships and scary rumors of criminal activity. Meanwhile, bombs are exploding, and soon the two separate events seem to merge. But the connection is vague and nearly fatal.

Joe just might ask too many dangerous and painful questions.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.