ROBBED BLIND: A JACK MCMORROW MYSTERY by Gerry Boyle; Islandport Press, 2022; 317 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952-14349-6.


Award-winning Maine author Gerry Boyle is back with his newest Jack McMorrow mystery — a dark, brooding tale of murder and malice that has Jack questioning his purpose and future.

Boyle is a central Maine resident, former journalist and popular mystery writer. This is his 13th McMorrow mystery. He also has a trilogy of mysteries featuring Portland police officer Brandon Blake, and fortunately Blake plays a prominent role here, too. Boyle’s main character, McMorrow, lives in rural Maine and is a stringer for the New York Times.  He is working on a story about an armed robber nicknamed the Zombie who is terrorizing the town of Clarkston, and the police cannot catch him.

Boyle cites many of society’s fears today as McMorrow is both unnerved and outraged at the level of violence, apathy and distrust in society, as well as the unhealthy influence of social media — especially Tik Tok. He worries for the future of his family and country. McMorrow is unhappy.

Covering the story of the Zombie robberies brings McMorrow into contact with a young woman witness, her rock ‘n’ roll father, a kindly Catholic zealot, the trade in Catholic statuary and meth addiction. He also has a frightening run-in with the psychotic nutcase who runs a well-armed, anti-government militia, and is appalled at the selfish agenda journalism of an ambitious podcaster who would never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The more wildly scandalous and untrue, the better the story.

A gruesome murder, domestic abuse, escalating violent armed robberies and myopic detectives make life dangerous for McMorrow and Blake (now a Clarkston police officer).  The ending, however, is underwhelming, with major plot lines unresolved and the reader disappointed. A good mystery but an incomplete conclusion.


WOOD ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF THE SEA by Richard Parsons; The History Press, 2022; 223 pages, $21.99; ISBN 978-1-4671-5049-1.


The lighthouses of Maine have always been beacons of hope, salvation, sanctuary, comfort and danger. As navigational aids they bring ships home safely or send them away from hazards. Lighthouse lore also tells of shipwrecks, ghosts, isolation, the natural beauty of the sea in calm or storm, even murder. And Wood Island Lighthouse is a good example of all of that.

This book is another magnificent product from The History Press and Saco author, educator and historian Richard Parsons. The history of Wood Island Lighthouse is told in 21 stories of the isolated lives of keepers and their families, raising children, farming, maintaining the light, shipwrecks and homicide.

Parsons is dedicated to the preservation of the Wood Island Lighthouse (he can see it from his house). The stories he tells are exciting, entertaining and full of the lives of the men, women, children and dogs who’ve lived there since it was first established in 1808. Located in the waters of southern Maine, offshore from Biddeford Pool, the lighthouse is the fifth oldest light in Maine.

In “The Unfortunate Benjamin Cole,” Parsons tells of the light’s first keeper, and how political patronage made his life miserable through lack of support. In fact, several stories reveal just how corrupt and incompetent the original lighthouse service really was, ruled entirely by political sycophants and fraudsters.

There are stories of shipwrecks and rescues, but best are the stories of the keepers, their wives and children, and how they lived a life of forced solitude with few amenities.  There are stories of lighthouse dogs like Sailor, who pulled the rope to ring the fog bell during inclement weather, and Kelly who refused to get in a boat and never left the island.

See also “Lighthouses of Maine” by Bill Caldwell (1986).

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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