January 31, 2013

BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: "Last To Die" and "Finding Your Inner Moose"

Bill Bushnell

By Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books, 2012
338 pages, $27
ISBN 978-0-345-51563-6
When best-selling Camden author Tess Gerritsen sits down to write a new novel in her popular Rizzoli and Isles mystery series, she knows her fans will expect a clever, suspenseful tale of mayhem and excitement. This latest mystery will not disappoint.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

“Last To Die” is the 10th novel in this series featuring Boston police homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. This smart, fast-paced mystery is one of the series’ best. Gerritsen has also written five stand-alone mysteries, but her Rizzoli and Isles series is, deservedly, a favorite of mystery devotees.

In this intricate tale, Rizzoli and Isles are puzzled by the gruesome slaughter of 14-year-old Teddy Clock’s entire foster family, leaving the boy as the only traumatized survivor.  When the two women discover that this is the second family massacre in Teddy’s young life, they enroll him as a student at Evensong, a special school for young homicide survivors hidden deep in the Maine woods.

Then they learn that Evensong is run by the creepy and secretive Mephisto Society, an ultra-conservative group dedicated to destroying evil. They discover that two other students at Evensong, a boy and a girl, are also the only survivors of multiple family massacres.

Rizzoli and Isles are suspicious of the whole Evensong set-up, and don’t believe the three teenagers’ cases are coincidental. As they investigate any possible linkage, they reveal a ruthlessly murderous conspiracy, a complex labyrinth of kidnapping, torture, greed and revenge, but most disturbing — somebody is the bait in an elaborate trap.

Gerritson’s conclusion is surprising, thrilling and a bit confusing, so the reader will have to pay close attention to figure it all out. Still, this is an excellent mystery sure to keep everyone guessing, even after the last bullet is fired.


By Susan Poulin
Islandport Press, 2012
241 pages, $16.95
ISBN 978-1-934031-91-9
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) once said:  “When a thing is funny, search it carefully for hidden truth,”  and the wit and wisdom of Ida LeClair’s self-help book, “Finding Your Inner Moose,” is both funny and loaded with insight.

Ida is the fictional stage character of humorist Susan Poulin, and this is Ida’s way of telling folks how to be happy, when surrounded by people who don’t want to be. She says moose tales are “like a fish tale, only bigger.”

Poulin lives in Eliot, and created Ida back in 1995 as a stage show. But this is Poulin’s and Ida’s first book. The stage shows must be a hit because Ida’s musings, observations and advice here are truly funny. Best of all, Poulin’s character is so believable that it is easy to see the best (and worst) bits of Ida in family and friends.

Ida offers advice on marriage, health, make-up, shopping, exercise, diet, husbands, housework and what to do with all that dog poop. She and her friends make up the “Women Who Run with the Moose” social club, a motley collection of personalities sure to be a hoot.

Ida is of Franco-American heritage, married to her high school sweetheart, Charlie, and works as a cashier at the town’s A&P.  She is observant, smart and funny, has plenty to say and basically wants everyone to be happy. Her best advice: “Do the best you can with what you have,” because “the only person who can make your life worth living is you.”

Learn how to avoid looking old, why the Cabbage Soup Diet is a really bad idea, how to Feng Shui the double-wide trailer and your yard sale, about “Aroostook County Cleavage” and why husband Charlie always trusts his gut more than his head.

— Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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