Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Murder and Mayhem: Matinicus An Island Mystery

As I've stated several times before, I don't often have high expectations of self-published books.  HOWEVER, Darcy Scott and the Maine Authors Publishers group really changed my mind with this outstanding whodunnit.  Scott gives us a tightly plotted, expertly populated ghost story set in the present and the past on one of the most renowned but unknown islands of Maine.

The plot is so fantastic that reviewing it is going to be a bit of a tip-toe but I'm going to try to explain why I'm such a cheerleader for this one without giving it away.

First there's the setting:  Matinicus Island is the furthest out of Maine's populated islands with an official population of about 50. It is not someplace one just drops in for an afternoon of sightseeing.  The families who live there are close-knit, often related, and depend almost entirely on lobstering for their income and each other for their survival. There's a single general store, a unisex barber/hair dresser, some satellite dishes, an assortment of unregistered and unlicensed objects that pass for transportation devices, numerous dogs of unknown parentage, no local law enforcement, no doctors or lawyers, (there are two EMTs), and sporadic plane, boat and ferry service (when the fog is lifted) between the island and "America."

Then there are the characters:
  •  A disenchanted teenaged girl (is there another kind?) who is waiting for the mother who abandoned her 10 years ago to return.
  •  The hard working couple who run the island store/restaurant/bar/post office, etc etc, etc.  She doubles as the EMT.
  • A visiting college professor on sabbatical, who is ostensibly counting trees and cataloging orchids, but who in reality is hiding out from his latest disastrous sexual conquest.
  • A raucous assortment of crusty, hard-drinking lobstermen...boat owners, sternmen, and wannabes.
  • A ghost who is haunting the 1799 residence where the college professor is staying.
  • A drop-dead gorgeous widow(?) who arrives in her gazillion $$ yacht with an unquenchable libido, a  propensity for sunbathing au naturale, dancing on pool tables, and whose wealthy husband  has apparently fallen overboard on the way.
These propel an incredible plot:

The college professor finds an old diary in his haunted house detailing the massacre of passengers of a shipwreck off the coast, the love life of the original occupants of the house, and some other details that can't be revealed here without giving you the whole enchilada.

The local lobstermen are in the midst of a "lobster war" - a snarling fight over territorial rights that periodically breaks out in violence as locals try to keep those "from away" out of their perceived private fishing grounds.  Although the State law allows anyone with a license to fish anyplace in Maine waters, the Matinicus population has tended over the years to ignore that little piece of legality and enforces its own brand of island justice to repel the outsiders, who often find their expensive traps have suddenly "gone missing."  At the time of this story, there's a full-scale dust-up a-brewing.

At the same time the professor arrives, all hell seems bent on breaking loose, and dead bodies keep appearing...usually found by said professor.  Is he responsible?  Are they related to the lobster wars?  Is there a serial killer loose on the island?  How come the ghost seems so agitated?

Throw in some good old fashioned Maine foul weather, some very crusty and rough language, some fairly explicit sex scenes, a little pot, a lotta booze, and you've got a rip roaring, page turning tale. 

Then top it off with an absolutely "I never saw that one coming!" ending, and we have here a winner! This is being sold as the first of the Island Mystery series, (and includes the opening pages of the next installment).  I certainly hope Ms Scott can follow through, because it's going to be hard to follow this one!

Author: Darcy Scott
Publisher-Format: Turtle Pond Press, Maine Authors Publishing, trade paperback, 247 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: double murders, ghosts, island justice, lobstering
Setting: Matinicus Island Maine 1829 and 2005
Series: Island Mystery Series #1
Genre: Mystery - amateur sleuth
Source: review copy from publisher

Many thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available.


  1. WOW...sounds like a great mystery. Thanks for making us aware of it.

    1. Hi Diane,

      I love uncovering books that are new to my readers. In fact, I sometimes pass on reviewing books that everyone else is doing. I want to read the undiscovered ones. Hope you have a chance to enjoy this one.

  2. Well you know I'm going to look for this one. I've never been out to Matinicus Island but our nephew spends a few weeks each summer there painting houses. I can hardly wait to read this.

    1. Barbara, I'd really be interested to see how someone who has really been there feels about this. I loved it but still wonder if the book is painting a picture of the "real" Matinicus. Of course, it doesn't matter, since it's fiction, but the sense of place is really strong, and I'd like to think it's a true picture.

  3. all these enticing Maine settings...I am going to have to stop reading your blog..lol

    1. Caite....please don't stop reading this blog. I promise to review books that are NOT about Maine too. Then you'll have other places to visit, or at least other books to put on your list. So glad you're still visiting. I so enjoy your insights.

  4. This looks like a great story and I love all your teasers about it. I found it at Amazon via Kindle (which I don't have), but will look further when I have more time for a hardcopy via Maine Authors Publishing!

    1. Well...you're in luck ... I just checked and Amazon is now featuring this on Kindle!!! YEAH!!!

    2. Hi there, Holdenj! The softcover version of "Matinicus" is now up on Amazon. Personalized copies are also available from my website: www.Darcyscott.net. Happy reading!

  5. There is no general store and no barber/hairdresser on Matinicus. There is, oddly enough, a lawyer (and, for that matter, a veterinarian, a civil engineer, and a rugby coach). The lawyer would much rather write songs and haul traps, just the same. We may not have a doctor but we are the only island in Maine with an active Ski Patrol.

    1. I had the same thoughts when I read the review. No store, wasn't sure about the barber/hairdresser, and there IS a lawyer. I am half-way through the book and enjoying it very much. Keep in mind that unlike "Well Out to Sea," (which I also couldn't put down!) this book is FICTION. I do find it interesting how the author uses real island family names for the characters, still, it's fiction. The portions of the story from the early 1800's diary are what really make this story.


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