LEWISTON — Sometimes, Maine author Gerry Boyle asks himself why he continues to write about crime, murder and mayhem.

Once, after a family member read one of his books, they told him they had to put it down and take a walk because they were so upset by a character being killed. “Isn’t there enough of that in the real world?” he asked a Great Falls Forum audience Thursday.

But, Boyle said, in the world he’s created, the bad guys never get away with it. In a real world with little justice, his stories take place in a “small, closed world where these things happen and there are consequences,” he said.

The Lewiston Public Library described it as “our attraction to those who break the rules, and our need to see justice, fictional as it may be.”

The former journalist recently released the 13th installment of his popular “Jack McMorrow” series, called “Robbed Blind.” Boyle told the audience the series will conclude next year with “Hardline.”

McMorrow, like Boyle’s first career, is a reporter who investigates murders and other crimes in rural Maine. Boyle constantly parses news stories for ideas and takes pride in his portrayals of rural Mainers. He told the audience that “Robbed Blind” features characters ranging from a member of an armed militia to a nightshift convenience store clerk. There’s also the clerk’s father, an aged punk rocker with a failing liver.


Boyle, who lives in the Kennebec County town of China, said a trip to the local transfer station — and finding a discarded Catholic artifact known as a “call box” — inspired one of the themes, and the artwork, for his latest novel. He also spent considerable time in a local convenience store at odd hours.

Originally from Rhode Island, Boyle came to Maine while attending Colby College, where he graduated with a degree in literature in 1978. Soon after, he began as a reporter at the weekly Rumford Falls Times, then moved to the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

Maine author Gerry Boyle signs books Thursday for members of the audience following the Great Falls Forum at the Lewiston Public Library. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

He said Thursday that the locale for his first McMorrow novel, 1993’s “Deadline,” was based on Rumford. Back then, his books featured things like phone booths and newsrooms with “typewriters clacking.”

Thirty years later, he said he pursues topics in his books that he wants to spend time diving into. In the McMorrow series he’s brought in topics ranging from Benedict Arnold to sailing. But, mostly, he enjoys creating characters that feel real and that readers are invested in.

Perhaps that’s why some readers get upset when their favorite character has a violent, untimely end.

“In these books, somebody’s got to go,” he said, adding that “people don’t often go peacefully.” But he said the decision is always strategic.


When Boyle discussed why he continues to write in the genre, he said it’s “partly just the magic of creating characters whose fate is in my hands.” And while Boyle said he was just about the only Maine author writing true crime in the early 1990s, the genre has now exploded on podcasts and Netflix shows.

He likes to say that his novels show the “other, other Maine,” as opposed to the quaint book genre he referred to as “coastal cozy,” which depicts only the sparkly, summertime vacationland.

Following a brief Q&A session, Boyle chatted and signed books for attendees.

While Boyle said the next McMorrow book will be the last one in the series, he’s not done writing. He may continue with his other series, which follows protagonist Brandon Blake in and around Portland.

Or maybe, he said, for his own benefit, he may write books “where people do make it to the end.”

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