BALD EAGLES, BEAR CUBS AND HERMIT BILL: MEMORIES OF A MAINE WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST by Ron Joseph; Islandport Press, 2023; 240 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952-14345-8.


When Ron Joseph became a wildlife biologist in 1978, he probably never expected his first job would be to wander around the North Woods counting deer poop. However, it was the unglamorous start to a wonderful, nearly 40-year career filled with adventure, wonder and terrific stories.

This is Joseph’s debut book, a fascinating memoir of his wildlife biologist career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Now retired and living in Sidney, Joseph has selected 40 stories for this collection showcasing his talent as a storyteller, growing up in Oakland and Mercer, and his years working with animals and people.

As a keen observer, listener and writer, Joseph gathered experiences tough and tender, hilarious and poignant, resulting in revealing stories of insight, education and entertainment. Many stories, of course, focus on wildlife — moose, eagles, bear cubs, wild turkeys and trout — but other include whales, sharks and herring. Wisely, he also includes stories about people: his beloved Grandpa Florian; a fly-fishing mentor; a prankster biologist; a lighthouse keeper’s wife; and a group of hungry Quebec lumberjacks.

In “Counting Deer Dung” he learned the difference between deer poop and chocolate-covered raisins. Other stories tell of happy successes with orphaned bear cubs, eagle, turkey and lynx restorations, as well as “Moose Danger” from ticks, and his greatest failure as a young biologist. He also describes leeches, dock spiders and northern water snakes (be careful where you swim).

Learn about colorful Hermit Bill, who in 1945 helped capture three Germans who escaped from a nearby POW camp, what a “herring choker” really does and what the “fish whistle” means, how to make a respectable “beehive” woodpile, and about Joseph’s embarrassing woodland encounter with a nude woman and a skeptical sheriff’s deputy.


DEATH OF AN ICE CREAM SCOOPERThe Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce can relax — no tourists get bumped off in this “Haley Powell Mystery” by Lee Hollis. But folks who live

DEATH OF AN ICE CREAM SCOOPER by Lee Hollis; Kensington Publishing, 2022; 310 pages, $8.99; ISBN 978-1-4967-3649-9.

and work in Bar Harbor do keep the murder rate pretty high for a small Maine town.

“Death of an Ice Cream Scooper” is Hollis’ 15th murder mystery featuring Haley Powell: erstwhile columnist, restaurant owner and amateur sleuth. This time she’s up to her cocktail menu with sappy family melodrama, her friends’ romantic entanglements, and the puzzling murder of a teenage girl who works in a gourmet ice cream shop. Who would have guessed the murder weapon was a dish of Indian Pudding Ice Cream? Clue: Nobody at the shop will eat the stuff.

Hollis’ “cozy” mysteries are always complex, quirky, full of clues, colorful characters you’ll either love or hate, and great fun. This one fits the bill, especially if you can get past the family crises and boozy ice cream cocktail recipes. The murder victim is pretty Miranda, a college wannabe with many jealous male admirers. Rumors of an affair with a local married man complicate things, and leaked evidence is a fateful distraction. The cops are useless, so Haley investigates on her own, uncovering even more suspects and motives for murder, attracting the attention of someone just desperate enough to kill again.

Add a two-timing unlikely Lothario using charm and false names to foul up friendships (this part is very funny), a couple of arrogant, self-absorbed social media influencers, horny love-struck teenage boys, an officious and obstructive store manager, a spot of blackmail and stalking, and a lot of really obnoxious behavior, and Haley has her hands full consoling angry friends, managing a restaurant and solving a murder, while trying not to get herself killed, too.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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