LAST TO DIE by Tess Gerritsen, August 2012, Ballantine Books, 338 pages, hardcover, $27.
The 10th book in Camden author Tess Gerritsen’s “Rizzoli and Isles” saga — detailing the exploits of homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles — is as suspenseful and nail-biting as any of her other wildly popular books. In this entry into the series, Maura and Jane investigate a disturbing case involving three teenagers, all of whom have had their parents murdered.
One of the hallmarks of Gerritsen’s writing style is her exacting, scientifically accurate attention to detail, born from her years as a doctor. She spares no gruesome word or image in describing just what happened to these newly minted orphans, and to the two women trying to solve the crimes. Gerritsen even takes the characters to Maine, as the action eventually centers on a fictional school called Evensong, located somewhere in the woods. There’s a reason Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are such a hit with readers (and with TV fans, in the TNT series based on the books) — they’re dynamic, multilayered individuals who elevate what might otherwise be a run-of-the-mill murder mystery into an engrossing read.
With “Last To Die,” Gerritsen also brings a level of emotional power to her stories. As the story centers on three very young people who have gone through a great deal of trauma, there’s a kind of intimacy and emotional closeness present — especially in the relationship between Jane and the bereaved teenager, Teddy Clock. And, as it is a suspense novel, there’s a wild ride of an ending sure to leave your pulse pounding.
CANOE INDIANS OF DOWN EAST MAINE by William A. Haviland, August 2012, The History Press, 128 pages, paperback, $19.95.
William A. Haviland’s interest in the coastal Indians of Maine began when he was a little boy living on Deer Isle in the 1930s. Each summer, his family visited the “Indian Camp,” a canvas tent where Indian crafters would sell baskets and miniature birch bark canoes to “rusticators,” a term used for summer tourists. Decades later, after years of archeological research, he has released “Canoe Indians of Down East Maine,” a book dedicated to “all the Wabanaki People, the real heroes of this story.”
This fascinating read, published by The History Press, traces the history of the people who lived in the state’s pine forests and fished along the rocky coast long before European settlers struck out to colonize the New World. Thousands of years before Europeans set foot ashore, Etchemins — whose descendants were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy — had lived in Down East. But with the settlers came “The Great Dying,” when disease killed up to 90 percent of the coastal populations, as well as centuries of discrimination. Yet they never abandoned Ketakamigwa, their homeland.
In “Canoe Indians of Down East Maine,” Haviland of takes the dry stuff of extensive research — names, dates, terms, places, numbers — and morphs it into a story that a reader can envision and remember. For information, visit historypress.net.
Haviland is professor emeritus at the University of Vermont, where he founded the Department of Anthropology and taught for 35 years. He has authored several other books, including three widely used anthropology textbooks and “At the Place of Lobsters and Crabs” (2009) about Deer Isle. Now retired from teaching, he continues his research, writing and lecturing from the coast of Maine, where he has served as president of the Island Heritage Trust on Deer Isle and presently serves on the boards of the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.
COASTAL MAINE BOTANICAL GARDENS: A PEOPLE’S GARDEN by William Cullina, Dorothy E. Freeman and Barbara Hill Freeman, July 2012, Down East Books, 192 pages, hardcover, $34.95.
In just 20 years, a vision conjured between two Maine gardeners grew into the state’s first and only botanical garden — the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens — a place for drinking in the beauty of the natural world, engaging the five senses, sitting by the shore in meditation, building fairy houses in the woods and learning about plants that thrive in Maine. Located in the coastal town of Boothbay, this cluster of themed gardens has expanded into a 250-acre wonderland.
The story of this remarkable place is told in “Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: A People’s Garden,” a hardcover book published in July by Down East Books in celebration of the gardens’ fifth anniversary being open to the public. Accompanied by vivid color photographs are the words of William Cullina, the gardens’ executive director; Dorothy E. Freeman, the gardens’ director of philanthropy; and Barbara Hill Freeman, gardens’ director of communication. Together, they blend recent history and botanical knowledge, providing an inspiring tale of a community project and glimpses into the gardens’ many treasures, from the enchanting fairyhouse forest to hundreds of rhododendrons in full flower. For information, visit downeast.com or mainegardens.org.
HERE AND AWAY: DISCOVERING HOME ON AN ISLAND IN MAINE by Deborah Cummins, July 2012, Maine Authors Publishing, 239 pages, paperback, $17.95.
Native Mainers have a tendency to tease “people from away” (those who weren’t born here), whether those people are first-time tourists or Maine residents for the past 20 years. Nevertheless, people generally feel welcomed to this pine-clad state, and many summer vacationers soon become Maine homeowners. That was the case for Deborah Cummins, a woman from the Midwest who unexpectedly found her home on Deer Isle.
In a gathering of personal essays and lyrical meditations, “Here and Away: Discovering Home on an Island in Maine,” Cummins expresses what she so loves about Deer Isle, from the welcoming inhabitants to her beloved garden. In her many island stories, she endures an unexpected loss, explores the history of her new community and unearths memories of her childhood. For information, visit maineauthorspublishing.com or deborahcummins.com.
HARRY STUMP: MAINE’S PSYCHIC SCULPTOR by Lloyd Ferriss with Rita Harper Stump, 2012, Maine Authors Publishing, 142 pages, paperback, $14.95.
In this nonfiction book, journalist Lloyd Ferriss has pieced together the odd life of Holland-born sculptor Harry Stump, who immigrated to Maine after surviving four years of anti-Nazi warfare in the Dutch Resistance. In Maine, Stump was known for his artwork, but much of his time and energy was spent at the mysterious Round Table Foundation, a group with the mission to study telekinesis (the ability to move objects at a distance by mental power or nonphysical means). Ferriss believed himself to have extrasensory perception, or ESP, and his story is not only an engaging read, it’s a piece of Maine history in danger of being forgotten or ignored.
Ferriss first met Stump while writing feature stories and a garden column for the Maine Sunday Telegram, but it wasn’t until after the sculptor’s death that Ferriss unearthed his autobiography, which covered the years of his life from 1926 to 1955. With the help of the Stump’s wife, Rita Harper Stump, Ferriss completed the biography, uncovering the remainder of the sculptor’s life from 1955-1998 and recording the entire journey in “Harry Stump: Maine’s Psychic Sculptor.” For information, visit maineauthorspublishing.com or facebook.com/lloydferrissauthor.
THE SUBSTITUTE by Rosemary Bickmore Canney, 2011, Gossamer Press, 205 pages, paperback, $13.33.
Rosemary Canney retired in 2007 after teaching English in Old Town High School for 32 years, but she didn’t leave it all behind. She simply exited her classroom in Old Town and entered Grady High School, the fictional setting for her two self-published books “In the Parking Lot at Grady High School” (2009) and its sequel, “The Substitute” (2011). Though both stories are works of fiction, they’re largely based on Canney’s experiences teaching in Maine and the many characters she met along the way.
“Some of the situations were hilarious. Along the way, however, we dealt with tragedies both large and small and lessons never meant to be taught or learned,” Canney wrote of her first book. The same is true of the sequel. Canney’s humorous descriptions and spot-on dialogue incites laughter more often than not; but also, threaded into the fictional memoir are subtle lessons and a perspective gained from her years watching, listening to and interacting with students. To purchase these books, email firstname.lastname@example.org.