SPEAK TO THE WINDS by Ruth Moore, Islandport Press, 2022, 320 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952143-37-3.


Fans of masterful fiction and colorful stories about Maine will be pleased that Islandport Press has published another magnificent novel by beloved author Ruth Moore (1903-1989), and this one is a delightful blend of drama and humor.

“Speak to the Winds” was originally published in 1956 and is the sixth of Moore’s 14 novels. Her stories focus on characters living on coastal and island Maine, with strong emphasis on people and place, and the many ways people behave, good and bad, in family, friend and business relationships.

Here she writes about the generational family and friend relationships on Chin Island, a community economically dead — but nobody will admit it. When not talking about the summer people who have more money than sense, the islanders talk about each other, especially in winter when there’s nothing else to do. It doesn’t take much spark to ignite long-dormant petty grievances which blow up into a bitter island feud that will do more damage “than anybody could afford.”

Snubs over a sore loser at the quilt raffle, rumors of food theft at the bean supper, deliberate postal offense, insults, nasty gossip and rumor, and blatant racism pit half the island against the other half. Trying to soothe tempers is Elbridge Gilman, fisherman, wharf owner and town selectman (and Moore’s most positive example yet of how a man, husband, father and citizen should behave), much to his worry and disappointment.

However, Moore also introduces some terrific comic scenes. There’s Miss Greenwood’s pet red squirrel General Putnam; the hi-jinks at the church bean supper; the postmaster and her false teeth; and two brothers trying to paint their skiff different colors at the same time. Hilarious scenes to be sure, but it takes tragedy to make the islanders see how foolish they are.


MURDER ON THE CLASS TRIP by Lee Hollis; Kensington Publishing, 2022; 328 pages, $8.99; ISBN 978-1-4967-3653-6.


Twenty-five high school seniors go on a class trip to Washington, D.C. to see historic sites and rub elbows with oily politicians. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, it seems, including murder.

“Murder on the Class Trip” is the third book in Lee Hollis’s “Maya and Sandra Mysteries” series, featuring two suburban PTA moms who’ve formed a private detective agency in South Portland. Hollis has also written 22 other mysteries and contributed to five holiday mystery collections. Hollis is well known as a writer of entertaining, irreverent “cozy” mysteries, and this one pokes great fun at duplicious DC politicians, muckraking journalists and amoral spin doctors whose only concern is image.

Maya and Sandra, best pals, reluctantly agree to chaperone the senior class trip. Each woman, however, has plenty of emotional baggage to drag along. Sandra’s soon-to-be ex-husband is a smarmy, philandering U.S. Senator, and Maya’s husband is a disgraced cop, now an ex-convict after serving a four-year prison stretch for corruption. Sappy family angst dominates the first 90 pages before the real mystery begins.

In DC the kids have a ball, but the adults are freaking out, and then the Senator’s pretty young intern turns up dead in his private condo. He claims his innocence, but nobody believes him — not the police, the FBI, the salacious media and its attendant agenda journalism, or his lying, cheating fellow politicians. This is a PR disaster, but only his image counts, no matter what the truth may be, and he does not handle it well, making stupid politician mistakes.

Maya and Sandra investigate on their own, turning up plenty of suspects and motives (it is DC, after all), finally setting a risky trap to smoke out the killer.


Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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