ONE WITH THE SEA:  AN INSPIRING RAGS-TO-RICHES SAGA OF THE SON
OF AN IRISH IMMIGRANT
By Richard Daniel O’Leary
Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2011
255 pages, $27.95
ISBN 978-0-9828236-5-1
 
An unknown pundit once said, “The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success,” and businessman Richard O’Leary know a little about one and a lot about the other.

ONE WITH THE SEA is O’Leary’s autobiography, a fascinating family history that reveals much about the man and his love of the sea.  O’Leary was born in 1932, grew up in Auburn, and now lives in Ogunquit.

O’Leary is a talented writer and he spins great stories about a life at sea, from his graduation from the Maine Maritime Academy to a tour in the U.S. Navy, his years as a merchant marine officer, and later as the founder and owner of a highly successful cruise line company.  He includes funny personal anecdotes and tales of storms and other sea adventures, as well as insight into his successes and failures in business.

Unfortunately, the reader will have to wade through an annoying abundance of self-promotion, shameless name-dropping, and too many “attaboy” letters; however, the strength of this book is O’Leary’s inspirational journey from near-poverty as a child to a wealthy business owner and corporate CEO.  He always believed in himself, following early advice:  “The secret to success in life is to do a little more than people expect you to.  You’re bound to succeed because most people are trying to do a little less.”

He vividly describes his formative college days, his insecurity as a young, inexperienced junior naval officer, then as a confident merchant marine officer on freighters and luxurious ocean liners, and finally his 34 years as CEO of a large cruise line company.

Learn too about the hilarious mishaps of “Captain Magoo,” about O’Leary’s deft handling of a cargo of tasty Scotch whiskey, and why he thinks airlines are the worst run companies in America.

 

BREAKING GROUND
By William D. Andrews
Islandport Press, 2011
275 pages, $16.95
ISBN 978-1-934031-38-4
 
The fictional western Maine town of Ryland is an unhealthy place, especially if you are affiliated with the Ryland Historical Society, where members seem to get bumped off with alarming regularity.
 BREAKING GROUND is Portland author William Andrews’s second mystery, following STEALING HISTORY (Islandport Press, 2006), featuring Dr. Julie Williamson, the director of the historical society and an amateur sleuth.  Andrews is a former president of Westbrook College, now a consultant and novelist.

This is a “cozy” mystery, a popular genre where violence, gore, and fast-paced action are downplayed (usually off-stage), and where the amateur detective skips fistfights, car chases, and gun play in favor of more cerebral investigative techniques like inquiry and thoughtful introspection.  There may not be much excitement in this story, but there is suspense and tension, and a cast of colorful and very convincing characters.

Julie is 35 years old, single, and just one year into her job as the director of the historical society, a job she loves except for the dead bodies. 

In this installment, a wealthy female benefactor is found murdered at the building site of a new project honoring her late husband.

A $1 million donation is involved with this project, but now the question becomes, not just who bashed Mrs. Swanson with a ceremonial shovel, but who benefits most from her death?

Despite warnings from her boyfriend and the local police chief, Julie sticks her nose into the investigation, uncovering multiple motives and suspects.  Her digging reveals puzzling clues that point in many different directions, but one points directly at her and the killer knows it.

This is a clever mystery, but Andrews loses ground with a dull, uninspired, and anti-climactic ending, spoiling what is otherwise a smart whodunnit.

— Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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