Maine Author Publishing, ISBN 1936447231
May 10, 2012, 252 pages
"Steeped in Maine island lore, this century-spanning double mystery pits a renegade fishing community against an unhappy child-bride of the 1820s, a defiant twenty-first-century teen, and a hard-drinking botanist—Dr. Gil Hodges—who escapes to the island of Matinicus to avoid a crazed ex-lover and verify a rumored 22 species of wild orchid, only to find himself hounded by the ghost of a child some two-hundred years dead.
If Gil’s hoping for peace and quiet, he’s clearly come to the wrong place. Generations of infighting among loose-knit lobstering clans have left them openly hostile to outsiders. When a beautiful, bed-hopping stranger sails into the harbor, old resentments re-ignite and people begin to die—murders linked, through centuries of violence, to a diary whose secrets threaten to tear the island apart."
When I received a chance to review the author's second book in her Island Mystery series, I though I should go back and read the first, Matinicus. Turns out it is not really necessary, since the second, Reese's Leap, easily stands alone. But I am happy I did, because I very much enjoyed this book.
Yes, I admit it, I have a weakness for books set in Maine, especially along that rocky coast. But that is only part of why I liked this book. It is very well written, the dialogue always believable to my ear. And yes, the setting is great. Gil is a botanist, and the parts about all the different sorts of trees and wild berries and wild flowers as he explores the island, is great. But Scott does not paint an all pretty, idealized picture of these islands. The residents are hard living, with maybe a bit too much alcohol and not a few drugs and certainly not beyond taking the law into their own hands. What happens on Matinicus, stays on Matinicus..and believe me, a lot of things are going to be happening on Matinicus!
I will admit I did not totally buy into the ghost thing at first, but Gil's reaction, made it totally acceptable. No silly Woo Hoo here! Also the jumps back and forth, from the doing generations ago that Gill is reading about in an old diary, and then back to the present, and a few switches from first to third person is a tiny bit confusing. Really, the different time periods need to be labels a bit more clearly, but yes, it is only a minor issue.
Gil is a great character, very likable, but also far from perfect, as he well knows. Sometimes he just needs to keep it zipped up and I do not mean his mouth. And it might be easier to see what is really going on if he was not so often hung over from his beloved single malt. But he is not the only good character in this book. It is full of them, and so very well described that you will think you know them in real life and you will care when they are in danger. But unlike Gil, I was not drunk and, to tell you the truth, I had it all pretty wrong. The present day mystery and the ones reaching back centuries. You might think you have it all figured out and then your read those last few pages and...wow. No, a dare say, you did not see it coming..and neither did Gil, poor fellow.
I have already read the second book in the series, Reese's Leap, but the review will not be out until the book's blog tour in August. Still, I will let you in on a secret...it was quite good as well, and it was a pleasure to see the charming, unlucky in love Gil back again. A beautiful island with a mysterious past and a violent present, great characters and a twisty-turny plot with tons of red herrings and an ending that will leave you surprised, certainly makes Matinicus a book I would recommend.