RETURN OF OLD MAINE WOMAN: TALES OF GROWING UP AND GETTING OLDER

By Glenna Johnson Smith

Islandport Press, 2014

168 pages, $16.95

ISBN 978-1-939017-30-7

Glenna Smith is 94 years old and proud of it. In fact, she likes being called an old woman, explaining: “Growing old is not a disease or a disgrace; it’s just a stage of life. I haven’t seen a decade yet that did not have something good to offer.”

Born in Ashville in 1920, she now lives in Presque Isle where she raised her family and taught high school English and home economics (remember that?) for nearly 50 years. This is her second book, following “Old Maine Woman” (Islandport Press, 2010), and is a collection of 32 delightful essays reflecting on her childhood, growing up, marriage, work, family and growing old gracefully with wisdom, humor and a good dose of sass.

Folks who fear getting old should read this for its honest appraisal of aging and living, or just for its lighthearted skewering of the brown spots on your hands or your sweatpant ensemble.

Some essays recall tender childhood moments, others are sad for their reality. Most are downright funny. In “Twelve” she remembers it was a difficult age for a tall, gangly girl with black-framed eyeglasses. In “Just a Girl” she accurately portrays the unequal roles of men and women in family households and the workplace in the 1930s and 40s. In “Rural Aroostook Women” she marvels at how hard farm women worked in 1941 and how happy they seemed.

Other essays reveal how much she accomplishes in one day with just one cup of coffee (a very large cup), why breakfast isn’t a Pop Tart, why school buses are so uncomfortable and how, as a child, she was taught that only Protestants could go to heaven. Best is her hilarious explanation of why she wants a cell phone that doesn’t work.

HOUNDED: AN ANDY CARPENTER MYSTERY

By David Rosenfelt

Minotaur Books, 2014

313 pages, $25.99

ISBN 978-1-250-02474-9

Some people joke that an honest lawyer is one who keeps his hands in his own pockets. Defense attorney Andy Carpenter is an honest lawyer, sort of, but that doesn’t explain why he has $30 million in the bank and no clients.

“Hounded” is Damariscotta Lake author David Rosenfelt’s 12th novel in this wildly popular mystery series, after “Unleashed” (Minotaur, 2013).

This latest mystery finds Andy with nothing to do — no clients and no work, just the way he likes it. Then a good friend, New Jersey Police Lieutenant Pete Stanton, asks for his help. A police informant has been murdered and Pete asks Andy and his girlfriend, Laurie (a well-armed, ex-cop), to take in the victim’s 8-year-old son and his dog.

Andy has no family and no kids — and is pretty sure he wants neither — but he can’t refuse Pete’s request. Then Pete is arrested for the murder of the informant. Although the evidence against Pete seems overwhelming, Andy quickly sees that the pieces just don’t fit — that this is an elaborate, expensive frame-up. But why?

Andy agrees to defend Pete, but the few clues he has don’t make any sense at all, and every time he wants to talk to someone, they die or disappear. Andy is a bit of a wimp — afraid of spiders, guns and even his own bodyguard — but he boldly violates numerous laws to defend his client, and a few unexpected breaks bring some clarity. He is comfortable working with computer hackers and ex-cons, but he is not at all happy having to rely on a ruthless mob boss for help.

Rosenfelt is in rare form with this clever, intricate mystery, slipping in plenty of misdirection, surprising plot twists, shocking action scenes and his signature irreverent, snappy dialogue.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.


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