By Ned Crabb

North Country Press, 2014

355 pages, $16.95

ISBN 978-0-945980-82-7

Lightning as a murder weapon? Maybe. But you’ve got to plan it just right. And even then, something might go wrong.


Ned Crabb’s debut mystery novel, “Lightning Strikes,” is a complex and intriguingly entertaining murder mystery set at the prestigious and expensive Cedar Lodge on Willow Pond in central Maine. Crabb is a part-time Belgrade Lakes area resident and former editor at the Wall Street Journal.

After 32 years at the Journal, Crabb has learned a thing or two about good writing. He showcases his considerable skills with this colorful, madcap mystery at a hunting and fishing lodge filled with liars, drunks, coke heads, thieves, assassins, embezzlers, horny hedonists, gold-diggers, charlatans, a very fussy French chef and a mean old lady everyone would to see dead — and soon.

Iphigene Seldon is the 77-year-old owner of the Cedar Lodge (worth millions) and is an abrasive, domineering old bat who yells, curses and drinks too much. But then, everyone in this story drinks too much. She announces she is going to get married and change her will. When the details are leaked, lots of folks suddenly decide they would be better off if she died sooner rather than later — like right now.

A summer storm brings rain, wind and dangerous lightning. Seldon is killed, but it’s no accident, and the sheriff and two college professors set out to solve the crime. Unfortunately for the investigators, everyone at the lodge has a motive for murder, but no one is who they seem, including family, friends, ex-husbands, ex-wives and some fishermen who are well-armed, well-financed and desperate. Watch out for the lawyer.

This is a well-crafted mystery, with plenty of action (the body count rises when the storm clears), clever clues and snappy, funny dialogue.



By Kathryn Miles

Dutton, 2014

359 pages, $27.95

ISBN 978-0-525-95440-8

In October 2012, Super Storm Sandy hit the east coast of the United States with such deadly fury and destructive power it has been called “the largest storm the planet had ever seen,” according to Belfast author Kathryn Miles.

Miles is a journalist, essayist and writer-in-residence at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt. She has published articles before, but this is her first book, an effort well worth reading for fans of weather phenomenon and human drama.


Sebastian Junger’s best-seller “The Perfect Storm” (Norton, 1997) set the bar for dramatic, non-fiction disaster stories, but Miles’s “Super Storm” is equally as compelling in its vivid description of a storm so huge and powerful it affected the Caribbean and much of the U.S. — from Maine to Georgia and inland to Ohio — and devastated coastal New Jersey and New York.

Miles tells this tale over nine days, from the storm’s beginning as a tropical depression in the Caribbean to its full force as a hurricane (extra-tropical cyclone) in the Atlantic. The day-by-day technique of storytelling builds suspense (even though we all know the tragic outcome), as Miles tells of veteran meteorologists who try to make sense of early indicators that do not follow any normal or historical pattern.

Her crisp, colorful narrative describes the dangerous work of the U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters who fly into the storm, the frantic efforts of federal and state officials who decide what to do (with high praise for New Jersey, Virginia and Delaware, criticism of New York), and the heroic efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard in locating and rescuing most of the crew of the ill-fated HMS Bounty, lost at sea in an ill-conceived and futile attempt to outrun the storm.

Super Storm Sandy proved that Mother Nature wins every time.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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