And Grant You Peace|
A Joe Burgess Mystery
Five Star, 2014, hc, 330pp, $25.95
Because boating season is long over and spring is still a myth, it seems a bit mean to feature some rollicking good salty, sunny adventure to the light-starved minds and shovel-blistered hands of readers of this column. But there is a viable alternative. Who-dun-its have long helped me through the winter since I've stopped playing in the snow. Kate Flora's new police procedural is just the ticket to take your mind of the next few dreary weeks (at least a couple of them) between now and your launch date.
Mystery writer, Kate Flora has long been a favorite Maine author of mine. She lives here...her novels are predominantly set here. Her characters are salt of the earth, the good ones...and you really like them...from the victims to the cops. They are unpretentious, hard working Mainers, for the most part.
The bad guys are usually nuts (and from away...which explains their misbehavior)...who use a few addled locals to help them accomplish their dirty deeds...which in this case are...never mind.
Set in Portland, Maine, in a mixed and fractious neighborhood, Flora's fourth police procedural involves a phantom baby, street gangs and a Somali immigrant population. How could it not be an explosive situation?
The opening scene is a grabber...screams of help lead to a woman and a baby locked in a closet inside a burning mosque. (Yes, there is a healthy Muslim community in Portland these days, further enriching the city's cultural diversity.) The high tension and desperation of the masterful opening scene is not maintained, but it has done its' job. You're hooked.
Joe Burgess is a sergeant with the Portland police. He's cool, calm and meticulous... and therefore, constantly missing meals. You like him and trust him at first introduction. The crimes in this novel range from arms smuggling and illegal sales, to neighborhood gang control (yes, pretty Portland has gangs at least according to Flora) to baby-napping and misuse of church funds...pretty much covers the waterfront.
Well-rounded characters, especially for a mystery, convoluted plot...but not of tear your hair intensity and set in pretty Portland, Maine, what else could you want in a civilized crime novel.
For greatest benefit, read it slowly and then buy Flora's other 13 books (several of which are also police procedurals) and read them, too. It might even be April when you're done and you haven't strayed too far from the water in your imagination, at least, and it's time to take the tarp off your boat.