THE STOLEN CHILD

In 1959 St. Brigid’s Island, 12 miles off Ireland’s west coast, is a small, weather-beaten, insular community of a dozen hearty Irish families. The island is also a place of superstition and the myth of St. Brigid’s holy well. And then the American comes to stay.

“The Stolen Child” is award-winning Portland author Lisa Carey’s fifth novel (after “Every Visible Thing”). It’s a lyrical story of belief, denial, love and heartache, in a time and place where folks struggle to survive amidst dying traditions and human weakness.

The island has no electricity, no phone, no doctor or priest. Families fish, raise sheep, pigs and cows, and use turf for fuel. They are not welcoming when Brigid, the middle-aged American woman arrives, intending to settle into her uncle’s dilapidated old house. The islanders can’t understand why she is there: “No one comes back here once they’ve gotten away.”

Brigid is outgoing, friendly and warm, but she does not reveal her past or her real purpose. She befriends two sisters, Rose and Emer, married to two brothers, and begins a complex relationship that leads first to curiosity, then joy and happiness, and finally to mistrust and pain.

Brigid possesses the power of healing hands, and seeks the secret location of the mythical holy well. Emer believes in fairies and their power if offended, obsessively protecting her 6-year-old son, Niall. These two women share much more than just tea and stories of magic and miracles, but a cold betrayal will result in death and the unraveling of the entire island community.

Carey spins a masterful dramatic and tragic tale here, filled with colorful Irish lore and legend, and the very real fact that “people believe a lot of things if they need to.”

COLD BLOOD, HOT SEA: A MARA TUSCONI MYSTERY

People who argue about the pros, cons, causes and blame for global climate change, believers and deniers, are passionate about the issue. But would they commit murder over it? Yes, they would.

“Cold Blood, Hot Sea” is the debut environmental mystery by award-winning environmental educator Charlene D’Avanzo, of Yarmouth. This planned mystery series features reluctant sleuth Dr. Mara Tusconi, a 31-year-old oceanographer with the Maine Oceanography Institute in fictional Spruce Harbor, Maine. The second book in this series, “Shadow Spirit Of The Sea,” will be out later this summer.

This is a mystery wrapped in the politics, science and economics of climate change as it affects the health of Gulf of Maine fisheries, written by an expert who knows her subject and how to clearly explain it.

Mara is a brilliant scientist who is afraid of public speaking, is often seasick and barfs on her colleagues. She is also whip-smart and tenacious. When an apparent accident aboard a research vessel kills a fellow scientist, Mara becomes suspicious at obvious signs of a media and investigation cover-up.

Some witnesses refuse to talk with Mara, others are evasive or just lie, and even her smarmy boss is threatening and obstructive. As she snoops around the case, she uncovers something odd about a surprisingly successful aquaculture business developing a “super-seaweed” for biomass fuel production. Her attention, however, also attracts a shadowy group of well-funded deniers who use fake news, false accusations, threats and intimidation to discredit legitimate scientists and their research.

Corporate conspiracy, personal greed, murder, assault, sabotage and kidnapping are the tactics of ruthless people desperate to protect their entrenched stake in the climate change controversy. And now, more than just Mara’s career and reputation are in jeopardy.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.