LOBSTERS WITHOUT BORDERS by Carol Chen; Self-published (Amazon), 2022; 311 pages, $12.99; ISBN 979-8- 9864396-0-0.


When rookie police officer Jane Roberts is assigned by the Maine State Police as the public safety officer for St. Frewin’s Island in Penobscot Bay, she never thought she’d be investigating a manure pile, an illegal crematorium and the curious case of the runaway underpants. But then she discovers a dead body.

“Lobsters Without Boarders” is the debut mystery by Camden author Carol Chen, an ambitious, complex murder mystery with quirky characters, sex, romance, phony accents, comic scenes, plot twists, lots of lies, misdirection and dead people.

Chen has a vivid imagination and a knack for storytelling, intending this to be the first in her planned “Jane Roberts Mystery Series.” Jane, in her 30s, is a former lawyer who hated her job, and who hates her soon-to-be ex-husband even more. Being a cop seemed like the right therapy, but she doesn’t fit the typical rookie cop profile. Jane is a slob, outspoken, argumentative, defensive and doesn’t know when to shut up. She’s perfect for an island that outlawed cell phones and the internet.

The murder victim was attending a business conference at the island hotel, but nobody seemed to know her. The homicide detectives and Jane are an oddly squeamish trio, barfing at the crime scene and autopsy, arguing with each other and not making much investigative progress. Another dead body (suicide in the freezer?) and another murder complicate things, as the first victim’s real identity has everyone confused, and the suspect list now includes dozens of people.

Add the appearance of a popular porn star (all the cops know her), a fried chicken leg, a steam diary, a startling tape recording and a syringe full of ketamine, and Chen has a fun tale of suspense.  And yes, it’s true, a lobster was harmed in the story.


MOUNTAIN GIRL: FROM BAREFOOT TO BOARDROOM by Marilyn Moss Rockefeller; Islandport Press, 2022; 208 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952143-48-9.


For many men and women their identity is manufactured, trying to please other people with an act that isn’t real and that they probably don’t like anyway. For businesswoman and award-winning author Marilyn Moss Rockefeller, her real personal identity took a long time to develop — from hillbilly tomboy to successful entrepreneur. And it was a rough road.

“Mountain Girl” is Rockefeller’s remarkable memoir (autobiography, really) of her life growing up dirt poor in a small West Virginia town in Appalachia (born in 1940), changing her identity through the stages of life to adulthood, motherhood and corporate nabob, shaped by people, places and events, all the while wondering who she really is.

Rockefeller is no longer in the boardroom, she is a talented and accomplished writer now, and this memoir showcases her writing and storytelling skills. Through all the heartaches, disappointments and rags-to-riches episodes, she still has a delightful sense of humor blended with unvarnished honesty. From childhood to teenage years and college, she constantly modified her identity to suit other people, even changing her hillbilly accent to be more ladylike.

Her first marriage to a brilliant but abusive, alcoholic artist introduced her to business, but required her to continue the charade of marital bliss to preserve her family and save their art business. The husband was a creative genius but no businessman. She had a good head for business (and how to treat people well), eventually running the multi-million dollar Moss Tent Works Company for nearly 30 years.

There are tears and painful memories here, as well as hilarious anecdotes like when the bathtub fell through the ceiling, the escaped mental patient who thought SHE was crazy, and the joke about Charlie the donkey. She has finally found her identity, and offers this memoir as inspiration for those still searching.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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