A Jack McMorrow Mystery
Down East Books, 240pp, $24.95
Gerry Boyle may not be one of those certified "Mainahs" with a minimum of three generations in hallowed Maine ground, but he is certainly an enthusiastic citizen drenched in his adopted state's character and characters. A graduate of Colby College, he "knocked around" in the trades for a while then worked for Rumford and Waterville newspapers before he turned his attention and talent to fiction. Deadline, the first in a series featuring New York Times stringer, and permanent Maine resident, Jack McMorrow, was released in 1993. Number nine in the Jack McMorrow series, Damaged Goods, was released this May.
Boyle says he and Jack grew up together--except that he got to Maine in his college years while Jack built a promising career at the New York Times only to retreat to Maine after committing a quasi-ethical journalistic error that lost him his job. Today both author and character live in the foothills west of the mid-coast and sleuth around solving crimes and writing about them. Jack is still a stringer for the Times and continues to get the occasional byline.
Damaged Goods finds Jack working up a story on female companions for the Times. He has finally made contact with a young woman in the trade, right here on the Maine coast, who is willing to talk to him about "the life". Simultaneously, his wife Roxanne, a child protective social worker has started the process to have the children of a self-proclaimed "Satanist" removed from the household for reasons of abuse and starvation. The Satanists pursue McMorrow and his family with creepy low tech relentlessness. It may seem hard to imagine how these two story lines will intertwine but Boyle weaves them together with a canny combination of coincidence and logic, creating multiple sources of suspense in the process.
At one point, the female companion and her cat along with Jack and his wife and daughter are holed up at the neighbor's house waiting for the Satanists to attack. The neighbor, Clair Varney is a regular in the McMorrow series. He's a Vietnam vet with more skills than any human being can use in a lifetime unless you've fought in Vietnam and live next door to Jack. In every book he gets progressively slower, quieter, more deliberate and more deadly. He may be my favorite character. His cameos are explosive.
I'm not telling you anymore except, take this one to the beach and you'll be back for another volume in the Jack McMorrow series before your vacation is over.