OXBOW ISLAND GANG: WINTER CROWS by Rae Chalmers; Maine Authors Publishing, 2022; 176 pages, $15.95; ISBN 978-1-63381-309-0.


Oxbow Island out in Casco Bay seems like a nice place to live. Folks there are happy, industrious, helpful and a bit quirky, but even Oxbow Island has its mysteries.

This is the third book in Peaks Island author Rae Chalmers’ series of environmental mysteries for middle-grade readers, featuring 11-year-old Bear and his adult and kid friends as they solve two more puzzling island mysteries. Chalmers is a teacher and writer who knows kids, islands, nature and how to put them together in an engaging, fun mystery series.

Bear is visiting his grandmother on Oxbow Island over the New Year’s holiday when a huge snowstorm knocks out power, forcing everyone to improvise to stay warm, helping neighbors with firewood, food, shoveling and encouragement. Out in the woods, Bear finds a dead crow and wonders about weird crow behavior. A second dead crow, some nasty complaints from a rude out-of-towner, and a man’s suspicious actions lead Bear to suspect a crime.

The island policeman isn’t interested in dead crows, but when money collected at a fundraiser to improve the island’s nature trail is stolen, everybody is upset, even the cop.  Suspicions fly, possible suspects are targeted and Bear learns a hard lesson about jumping to conclusions. A small boy named Turtle is a curious little fellow and may know more than he’s letting on.

Aided by 12-year-old Olivia and her father, his grandmother, a retired professor and the hippie cab driver, Bear and his pals finally solve the mystery of the dead crows and catch the donation thief red-handed, and the two conclusions are very unexpected surprises — both the who and the why.


Oxbow Island is a pretty nice place after all.

CITIZEN K-9: A K-TEAM NOVEL by David Rosenfelt; Minotaur Books, 2022; 304 pages, $27.99; ISBN 978-1-250-82893-4.


For many folks, a high school reunion is just an excuse for people who didn’t like each other to get together to reminisce about all the good times they never had. And it might also be the perfect place to think about murder.

“Citizen K-9” is another excellent mystery by Damariscotta author David Rosenfelt, the Shamus Award-winning writer of the popular Andy Carpenter mystery series. This is the third book in his K-Team series, a smart spin-off from the Carpenter line-up. The K-Team is a private detective firm headed by Laurie (Andy’s wife and former Paterson, New Jersey police officer), Corey Douglas (retired K-9 cop and his German shepherd Simon Garfunkel), and Marcus Clark (a scary guy you don’t want to meet in a dark alley).

The K-Team is hired by the Paterson Police Department to help close out the department’s overload of cold cases. Their first case involves the unsolved disappearance of two of their high-school classmates from the 10-year reunion, 10 years earlier. A man and woman just vanished without a trace, no apparent clues, no leads, nothing. Are they dead or alive? There is a subtle clue and the reader might see it early on.

Determined to solve the case, the team is surprised when their investigation suddenly leads to organized crime, gambling, drugs, a hired killer, a slew of unsolved murders and a group of high school nerds. First, however, they must decide if the missing people are dead, on the run or just happily living together off the grid somewhere.

When they run out of leads, the team provokes some very bad people to get a reaction, but the jump start produces more bodies and a frightening conspiracy. And don’t get in Marcus’s way, ever.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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