When two giant energy corporations fight over a possible LNG plant in the small coastal town of Hopefleet, Maine, somebody is bound to get hurt. And that would be lobsterman Caleb Hayes.

“Full Fathom Five” is award-winning author James Nelson’s new contemporary thriller, a bold departure from his popular historical fiction about pirates, Vikings and colonial naval warfare. Nelson smartly blends local news into this tale of conspiracy, corporate corruption, political graft and coldblooded murder. Harpswell readers will instantly see the plot’s location and connection to their own LNG controversy back in 2004 (minus the murders).

Atlantic Gas and Oil and International Gas and Power are locked in a billion-dollar battle over the proposed LNG plant, but the vote of just one town selectman can determine the outcome, and that selectman is a lying schemer with an audacious plan of his own.

Hayes is a native Mainer, just returned from a 15-year career in Los Angeles as a security consultant and bodyguard to Hollywood’s celebrity A-List. He’s a lobsterman now, but hasn’t lost any of his special skills. He does, however, have his own L.A. secret that he lies about, and just wants to be left alone.

When Caleb pulls up a trap with a dead man tied to it, he is unwittingly cast as a player in the LNG controversy, but doesn’t know it. Even when he figures out he’s just a skillfully manipulated pawn, he can’t figure out why. Fortunately, his special skill set allows him to survive beatings, ambushes and the deadly attentions of two opposing assassins.

As the deadline for the selectmens’ vote on the LNG plant nears, everyone’s rules change, and Caleb becomes the manipulator, making natural gas even more explosive than ever. Nelson has another hit with this fast-paced thriller.

THE GREAT MARS HILL BANK ROBBERY

 

In 1970, Bernard Patterson returned home to Aroostook County from the Vietnam War as a decorated war hero. Before long, however, he reverted to his old persona — pothead, drug dealer, burglar, robber and petty criminal. Then he decided to go big time: He robbed the Northern National Bank in Mars Hill, “the largest bank robbery in the history of the state of Maine.”

Topsham author Ron Chase tells the remarkable true crime story of Patterson’s solo bank heist, and his seven months on the run, living a lavish lifestyle across seven countries and three continents, blowing $90,000 on booze, drugs and women.

As Chase reveals, Patterson was a complex young man, just 24 years old when he robbed the bank on November 12, 1971. At times charming and generous, he could also be impulsive, rash and manipulative, easily bored, always looking for new thrills. He never had enough money, but he knew where to get it. The bank robbery netted him $110,248.96, which was enough for the wild splurge he always wanted. He was not known for long-term planning.

Chase tells of the robbery, the goofy getaway, and Patterson’s unbelievable jaunt to Europe and North Africa, a life of “unrestrained extravagance,” consuming vast quantities of liquor, drugs and pretty women, using the unlikely alias of an imprisoned murderer and rapist.

Chase also describes law enforcement’s inept and myopic investigation, bungling leads even after Patterson was positively identified as the robber. The police pursuit is laughable, sort of like the Keystone Kops meet Barney Fife.

Still, after spending almost all his loot, Patterson is finally captured, convicted and sent to prison. He died in 2003. Some folks might admire Patterson for his wild ride, brash behavior and unconventional lifestyle, but he was still just a petty crook.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.