By Kate Flora
Five Star, 2012
366 pages, $25.95
ISBN 978-1-59415-379-2
Portland homicide detective Joe Burgess is beginning to think he might be getting too old for the job. Pushing 50, fueled by bourbon and red meat, coffee and donuts, Joe’s usually sound judgment and tenacious investigative skills are being crowded by unhealthy cynicism and a surprising lack of patience when dealing with liars, public indifference and senseless murder. 

Fortunately for Joe, the city’s criminals are scared of him (and so are many of his fellow cops).
REDEMPTION is Maine author Kate Flora’s third excellent mystery featuring Joe Burgess, following PLAYING GOD (2006) and THE ANGEL OF KNOWLTON PARK (2009).

Flora’s Joe Burgess mysteries are authentic police procedurals — right down to the grisly autopsies — with strong, carefully woven plots, convincing characters and snappy dialogue, as well as loads of suspense, plot twists and vivid tough-guy action.  This mystery is the best of the three well-crafted Burgess crime novels.

On a bright, sunny Columbus Day weekend, Joe’s picnic plans are interrupted by the discovery of a body in Portland harbor.  And Joe knows the victim well — harmless Reggie the Can Man, a homeless Vietnam veteran who’d been friends with Joe since they were in high school and the war together.

Joe is angry that nobody cares about another homeless man’s death, and he vows to avenge Reggie’s murder. Joe and his two detectives launch an all-out investigation despite top brass interference, puzzling clues, a clear lack of evidence and a suspect list that runs from wealthy, prominent citizens to Old Port drunks and rowdies, violent sex freaks, the city’s unfortunate and suspicious street people, a menacing serial abuser and a very dangerous self-proclaimed witch.

When Joe discovers a possible motive, the case takes some frightening, bizarre turns and nearly derails over a shocking personal revelation.

By Peter and Suellen Diaconoff
iUniverse, 2011
265 pages, $17.95
ISBN 978-1-4620-3557-1
Baby Boomers are faced with many challenges, not the least of which is getting older.  But, as Lucille Ball once astutely observed:  “The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.”

However, physical exercise, fresh air and stimulating outdoor activities can help keep Boomers younger, too, and hiking offers the full range of fun and fitness so necessary to a healthy, fulfilling life.

THE BOOMER’S GUIDE TO HIKING IN MAINE is dedicated to Boomers (born 1946-1964) who enjoy outdoor exercise, offering detailed descriptions of nearly 70 day hikes from short and easy (less than two hours) to longer and more difficult (up to 12 miles over rugged, steep terrain) in the mountains and woodlands throughout Maine.

Authors Peter and Suellen Diaconoff have hiked all of these trails, and have packaged their travels into five degrees of difficulty — from easiest to hardest — adding all the needed information of how to get there, hike length, vertical ascent, availability of parking, water, toilets, even whether or not you might encounter a lot of other hikers.  Best of all, for each hike they highlight the challenges and payoff (the reward for your efforts).

The hikes are all over Maine, from Monument Hill in Leeds and Oven’s Mouth in Boothbay, to Bald Rock Mountain in Lincolnville, St. Sauveur Loop in Acadia and the Gulf Hagas Trail near Brownville Junction.

They smartly include useful sidebars on local history and possible wildlife encounters, as well as great places for winter snowshoe hikes, a hiker’s glossary, map recommendations and tips on clothing, footwear and other gear.

Learn, too, how to purify water with iodine, where Maine’s most famous outhouse is located, why the 100-Mile Wilderness has such ominous warning signs and why a Krummholz is not a German cookie.

 Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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