THE FASTEST HOUND DOG IN THE STATE OF MAINE by John Gould; Down East Books, 2021; 93 pages, $16.95.


Today’s everyday reality is a bit short on wholesome humor, something everyone needs and can appreciate. American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) had this enduring advice: “We are all here for a spell, so get all the good laughs you can.”

So, it’s with perfect timing that Down East Books has published one of beloved Maine humorist John Gould’s funniest stories, “The Fastest Hound Dog in the State of Maine.” This is a laugh-out-loud knee-slapper from start to finish, a perfect example of oral folklore put on paper by a Yankee humorist who freely admitted “I really didn’t write this one.”

A newspaper columnist for sixty-two years, Gould (1908-2003) also wrote twenty-six books, including the hilarious “Tales from Rhapsody Home: Or What They Don’t Tell You About Senior Living,” written when he was 92. Gould originally wrote this one down in 1953, and it’s just as funny today as it was then.

Despite the title, this is not a “shaggy dog” story; rather, it is a simple tale of a man, a dog and a race with a train, told with Gould’s masterfully droll yet vividly colorful Yankee humor and acerbic wit. A man who lived in Wytopitlock wanted a fast dog to chase down those pesky, long-legged Wytopitlock rabbits. He goes to Mattawamkeag and finds such a speedy canine, but the sly owner won’t sell. The negotiating strategies and dialogue of these two miserly and shrewd men are a scream.

Happy with his purchase, the man and dog ride the train home until they encounter an officious train conductor and a battle of words and wits results with the dog racing the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. Mishaps, suspense and surprises, with two men trying to outsmart each other mark the wacky dog-train race, provide all the good laughs you’ll need.


MAINELY MONEY: A GOFF LANGDON MAINELY MYSTERY by Matt Cost; Encircle Publications, 2021; 284 pages, $16.99.


Brunswick, Maine doesn’t generate much business for a private investigator, so PI Goff Langdon is surprised when he suddenly has three high impact cases dumped in his lap. Now he actually has to go to work.

“Mainely Money” is Brunswick author Matt Cost’s third volume in this mystery series featuring a now soft-boiled Langdon as a PI who doesn’t know the meaning of the words “discretion” and “confidentiality.” In fact, most of the bad things that happen to Langdon and others are the result of him running his mouth, discussing his cases with family, friends, suspects, victims, even total strangers. Langdon is his own PR disaster, and somebody just might get killed.

His first case has him investigating the blackmail of a national politician, but the circumstances are weird. He identifies the blackmailer, but there is no demand, and the victim doesn’t want the case pursued. Someone else wants him to stop, too. But why?

As he scratches his head over that case, he’s asked to prove the innocence of an African immigrant man accused of being the Old Port Killer, the murderer of local college girls. This case seems easy, but it quickly turns into a gruesome bloodbath.

The third case involves finding the missing sister of a beautiful woman whose steamy sexuality fogs up more than just Langdon’s mind. A missing person case should be a snap, but it isn’t.

Since Langdon is such a blabbermouth, he’s aided by computer kids, slacker pals, an aging hippie lawyer, a fat cop buddy and a couple of well-armed bikers called the Twins. And of course, the cases are not at all what they seem, and the reader will see it first, long before Langdon. Plenty of suspense, action and a high body count will provide the excitement.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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