Fisherman's Bend

Fisherman's Bend

3.8 9
by Linda Greenlaw
     
 

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"When former Miami homicide detective Jane Bunker left her big city life for Green Haven, Maine, she thought she was also leaving behind the pollution, noise, and dead bodies. Well, as any New Englander will tell you, two out of three ain't bad." "After solving a murder and surviving a couple of attempts on her life, Jane Bunker believes she's finally earned a respite… See more details below

Overview

"When former Miami homicide detective Jane Bunker left her big city life for Green Haven, Maine, she thought she was also leaving behind the pollution, noise, and dead bodies. Well, as any New Englander will tell you, two out of three ain't bad." "After solving a murder and surviving a couple of attempts on her life, Jane Bunker believes she's finally earned a respite from murder and intrigue. But if she thinks it's time for her to soak up the peace and quiet she's been seeking, she should think again." "On her way back from a routine investigation into some smashed equipment, Jane takes a moment to appreciate the beauty of a Maine autumn - there's the sublime rainbow foliage of the highlands, the serene reflections of the setting sun on the bay's gentle waves, the elegant silhouette of a lobster boat on the bay. But her calm lasts only as long as it takes for Jane to make the chilling discovery that the vessel is in serious trouble with nobody aboard - and that its owner has vanished without a trace..." And that's the least of the mysteries. A young mariner dead of a heroin overdose; the real agenda of a charismatic Indian leader; a missing bait iron and a corpse painted red - nothing is what it seems.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sandra Burr offers a cool, understated reading of Greenlaw's second nautical mystery (following 2007's Slipknot), which finds 42-year-old marine insurance investigator and deputy sheriff Jane Bunker investigating some vandalism aboard a research vessel that leads to a missing person case, a fatal drug overdose and an attempted murder. Burr's dialects are sure: whether she's playing a Maine fisherman or a Native American oysterman, she sounds like the real thing. Burr also creates a sympathetic portrait of the very vulnerable Bunker, holding listeners' attention during Greenlaw's slow buildup. A Hyperion hardcover (Reviews, May 5).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In her second outing (after Slip Knot), ex-Miami detective-turned-Maine insurance investigator Jane Bunker checks out the vandalized equipment of a company insured by her employer. This leads her to an abandoned boat and a corpse. Jane's culture shock and career adjustment are brilliantly portrayed.
—Jo Ann Vicarel

Kirkus Reviews
Maine fishermen almost flummox a tough detective relocated from Miami. Jane Bunker, who thought she'd seen everything after nailing Florida lowlifes, is nonplussed that tiny Green Haven, Maine, has proven to be just as dangerous (Slipknot, 2007). Doing double duty as an insurance inspector for Marine Safety Consultants and assistant sheriff for Knox County, Jane is returning with her 60-plus friend Cal from viewing damaged equipment aboard the Quest, a vessel authorized to survey the ocean floor in Cobscook Bay, when they come upon a lobster boat circling unmanned. The captain of the Eva B. may be drowned or holding on to a buoy. Later, a body surfaces in a boat's nets, but it turns out to be a Guatemalan crew member of the Asprella. Where then is the missing Parker? He earned the enmity of his late heroin-addicted son Jason and the dislike of Green Haven's other family of lobster trollers; a Native American chief opposed his right to fish; and the State of Maine was undercutting his living by establishing oyster beds in the bay. There'll be squalls, boat ramming, truck nudging and one-on-one confrontations before Jane realizes Parker was also working two jobs, one of them highly illegal. A primer in how to acclimate to Down Easterners that includes step-by-step instructions in knot-tying, navigation and climbing in and out of listing lobster boats. Jane's the best thing to happen to water since Travis McGee.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786885923
Publisher:
Hyperion
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

FISHERMAN'S BEND


By LINDA GREENLAW
HYPERION
Copyright © 2008

Linda Greenlaw
All right reserved.


ISBN: 978-1-4013-2235-9



Chapter One I STOOD AT THE STERN facing aft and watched the walls of Cobble Harbor gently melt into the rainbow sherbet foliage of Quoddy Head. The Head, high and abrupt, proudly displayed its seasonal colors; a stand of hardwoods stretched up and around the rocky bluff like an Indian headdress. As Cal pushed the throttle up a bit, I sighed with the realization that Mother Nature's ornamentation would soon be gone-like Christmas cards plucked on January 2 from their temporary refrigerator-door home. So this was autumn in New England. I was only a child when, decades ago, my mother moved my brother and me from Acadia Island, which was just across the bay, all the way down to Florida-the most exotic place she could think of. But South Florida's orange groves didn't hold a candle to this, I thought.

The deck swayed beneath me as Cal rounded a buoy, causing me to brace my left leg. The increased speed, a cool comb that parted the hair on the back of my bead, was another reminder of things to come. A weathered red navigational buoy, nun number "4," suddenly appeared at the edge of my peripheral vision, and then bobbed its matronly figure in the small swells we had caused.

We sped east across Cobscook Bay and away from Green Haven as the center of our wake seemed to zip back up what the stem had so brazenly exposed. The surface beyond the churning wake was unusually smooth and protective.

I'm Jane Bunker, a newly deputized marine insurance investigator. I moved to Green Haven, Maine, in June of this year to start a new life. The old life? Well, suffice it to say I left it in Miami. It's important to note that my change of scene was nothing like the proverbial heart left in San Francisco. If my move north were a song, it would be a slightly happier tune-no regrets. Well, almost none. Dropping my position as chief detective of Miami-Dade County in favor of that of a lowly insurance investigator was a quick, albeit calculated, descent on the career ladder. Though, since my return to Maine, I had succeeded in pulling myself up a rung, and had, just picked up the title assistant deputy of Knox County. Like many of my neighbors, I now wore more than one hat. Deputy sheriff was a part-time, need-based employment. It was simple supply and demand; little criminal activity meant little need for my deputy services.

The deputy gig, still in its infancy (not unlike the marine consulting, which was also relatively new to me), was the result of a lack of interest on behalf of local law enforcement in venturing out to the remote extremities that comprised the territories I cover in my chief job of insurance gal. In this respect I was now able to kill two birds. I could survey damaged property, investigate crime scenes, and write corresponding reports. (Although math is not my strength, I do realize that according to that list, any stones I cast may take care of three birds.)

My boss at Eastern Marine Safety Consultants, Mr. Dubois, had telephoned at nine o'clock this morning with an assignment to inspect damage to some of Quest's deck equipment. He said that Quest was a privately owned research vessel authorized by the State of Maine to survey a piece of ocean floor in Cobscook Bay. A large aquaculture outfit, North Atlantic Shell Farms, had applied to lease this particular bottom from the state with ambitions of growing oysters. Surveying the bottom was part of the application process. According to Mr. Dubois, someone had maliciously vandalized some of the deck equipment aboard the vessel. In his opinion, "some of those interbreds with too much time on their hands" had thought of this as entertainment. "Just a quick inspection, a few pictures, and a report will be fine. This is a very important customer for the insurance company. Don't get too ... well, you know," he advised.

"Thorough?"

"Look, Jane. They don't want to press any charges. They just want to collect what's coming to them, get their equipment repaired, do their job, and get out of that chromosome deficiency zone."

"Come on. Cobble Harbor can't be that bad," I said hopefully.

"Well, it's just ... remote."

"Worse-than Green Haven?" I asked. My new hometown felt like the end of the Earth to me. After our conversation and a look at the road map, I had called Cal. To avoid accusations of double-dipping, I hired Cal to transport me to and from Cobble Harbor via his boat, Sea Pigeon. I offered to pay Cal the same $20 per hour that I would receive from the County Sheriff's Department for my time. Cal was happy to oblige. The pay was a bit more than he had been getting at Turners' Fish Plant before it burned to the ground, and this was an opportunity for him to get back on the water, where he had spent the majority of his working life. Sure, I could have driven my car from Green Haven to Cobble Harbor. But driving the length of the two peninsulas I would have needed to traverse would have consumed the majority of my day, not to mention a significant portion of what life remained in my 1987 Plymouth Duster. By water the distance was a very manageable seventeen miles. Economics aside, I thought a boat ride would be nice.

A chronic early bird, I had arrived at our prearranged meeting spot a full twenty minutes ahead of our scheduled rendezvous of 11:30 A.M. And I learned that Cal Dunham was even twitchier than I am when I found him already aboard Sea Pigeon at the public landing behind Bartlett's Store. Cal is in his early seventies, tall, but stooped from a long career as an offshore fisherman. He is a man of few words, with the wide honest face of a New Englander. After the unpleasant events following the murder of the town drunk six months ago, Cal had proven himself a steady friend. Sea Pigeon was tied to the dock with her engine idling smoothly. I stepped aboard, Cal untied and coiled the single dock line, and off we went toward Quoddy Head.

And I was right to think a boat ride would be nice. It was nice-lovely, actually. We arrived at the town dock in Cobble Harbor, as Cal said we would, at just a few minutes past noon. The Sea Pigeon seemed diminished in size by the looming stern of Quest. The larger vessel cast a square shadow into which we crept as two men appeared on the wharf to catch our dock lines. To some observers, the small mound between Cal's shoulders indicated a degree of decrepitude. But his boat-handling skills, agility, and no-nonsense demeanor revealed competence of a level that thrust helping hands back to pockets as the old man secured his boat and nodded an okay for me to step ashore. My promise to be quick was met with a smile and, "Take your time. I ain't goin' nowhere."

The long step up from Sea Pigeon to the dock was made easier by a large hand extended by the taller of the two men standing on the clock. The men seemed to have been waiting for me. Before the tall man released his grip, introductions were made. "You must be Jane Bunker. I'm Dane Stevens, captain of Quest." Black sideburns spilled from beneath a red baseball cap sporting the ship's logo, which matched the embroidered patch on the breast of his light gray sweatshirt. His dungarees appeared to have been starched with perfect creases that ended just above comfortable-looking Sperry Top-Siders. "This is our chief archaeologist, Quentin Molnar-otherwise known as Quasar." The utterance of the nickname was delivered with a broad, white smile that confirmed that this was indeed a friendly mission. The ever important first impression was a positive one; confident and competent, Dane Stevens seemed captainly.

Quasar, on the other hand, was ill at ease. Perhaps he was one of those scientists whom you suspect is more at home in a laboratory than out in the world of human beings; Quentin Molnar squinted nervously behind thick glasses and shifted his weight from foot to foot as he spoke. "Ms. Bunker, thank you. Thanks. Ahh, thanks for coming so quickly. We appreciate your coining here. We're really very grateful. So, thank you." Quasar was absolutely disheveled. The tails of his white oxford shirt were half in and half out of severely wrinkled khakis. It was clear which side he slept on as his thick mop of reddish hair was so lopsided I fought the urge to tilt my head while he was speaking. "We were scheduled to begin work today and now vandals have really screwed us up. We've been vandalized. Vandals have screwed up our schedule." I wondered if Quasar always repeated himself, or if I was making him nervous. "I've already ordered replacement parts for what I can't fix. I can fix a lot of it. I had to order a few things, but not too much. I hope FedEx can find this place. Do you know if FedEx delivers here?"

"I don't know. I'm here to inspect the damage, send pictures and a claim to the boat's insurance company, and file a police report. Shall we go aboard and have a look?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, of course. Yes, come. Follow me. We'll go aboard. Right this way," Quasar said as tie turned and scurried toward the aluminum gangplank that connected the top of the dock to Quest. He shuffled across the metal pathway and hopped down onto the deck without a glance back to see if I was with him. The handsome captain motioned for me to go ahead of him with a shrug and a half smile that I took as an apology for Quasar's manners and awkwardness. Soon the three of us stood in the middle of a basketball court-sized work area surrounded by cranes, dredges, winches, a submersible, and several pieces of equipment I didn't recognize. Dane Stevens excused himself to complete some unfinished project, the details of which I don't recall. Slightly disappointed to be left alone with the nerdy archaeologist, I sighed-story of my life.

I quickly got down to the job at hand, anxious to attempt to please my boss by doing only the bare minimum, even though that was against my nature. Quasar, who became articulate on his home turf, led me around the deck in a very educational guided tour of Quest's special equipment. He described in some detail the workings of the magnetoscope and the galeazzi lance, both of which appeared to have been beaten with a sledgehammer. He explained that the magnetoscope was used to detect ferrous masses on the ocean floor and the lance was designed to remove sediment buildup around any potential historical sites. "Historical sites? What kind of historical sites?" I asked as I zoomed my camera in on a circuit board that was exposed and smashed. "I assumed that you'd be surveying to see if the area is suitable for aquaculture." I turned to Quasar to see what he'd say, but I was just being polite. Sure, I was curious to learn more. But I needed only a few pictures and an official report, not commentary or opinion.

"Oh, we are indeed. That's why we're here; to check the proposed site for the oyster farmers. But in Cobscook Bay we're thinking we might find remnants of Native American campsites. Federal and state laws require offshore projects to hire archaeological companies to determine whether activity will harm historically significant remains." Quasar pushed his eyeglasses onto the bridge of his nose. "We're also checking water quality, tidal flow, and other factors and elements that make the area conducive to growing oysters. That's all North Atlantic wants to know. They want to be assured that the site they are applying for to lease from the State of Maine is ripe for their purposes. They aren't concerned about anything else."

"Indians camped offshore?" I asked, immediately forming a negative opinion of money spent on such foolishness.

"Sure," Quasar said, a smile on his face. "During the last ice age the level of the ocean plummeted over three hundred feet. But then the glaciers melted, the sea level rose again and drowned what we hope to find-intact underwater cultural sites. How did the first humans get to this continent? Land bridge from Siberia to Alaska following big game?" Quasar's eyes widened with impassioned energy and seemed to grow tentfold with the help of the thick lenses framed in black plastic rims. "Or was it via the coastal route from Europe? It's a debate that could be settled by finding submerged settlements with evidence of tools or food gathering." Quasar's voice had gone up a full octave. By the time Quasar had completely saturated me with his passion for archaeological expeditions, I knew that he'd only scratched the surface of his vast knowledge. Through his work he intended to support theories of whys and wheres of the earliest inhabitants of New England. Although I had all I needed to get the ball rolling toward reimbursement from Quest's insurance company for all damages, I asked a few questions-more out of curiosity than anything else. I wasn't feigning interest out of politeness anymore. I was genuinely intrigued.

It was abundantly clear that Quasar's connection to aquaculture was due only to the fact that North Atlantic Shell Farms was footing the bill to allow Quasar and what I assumed would be a team of scientists the opportunity to delve below. And it was also clear that this wild-eyed archaeologist was hoping to find exactly what his employers didn't want him to discover. A historic site would definitely be a setback for a company that would prosper in establishing oyster beds on the ocean floor. As a point of interest, Quasar mentioned that the vandals had sabotaged only what was needed for underwater exploration. None of the vessel's propulsion, electronic navigational aids, or other state-of-the-art systems had been disturbed in any way. To his eye, in contrast to what my boss thought about a random strike born of boredom and stupidity, this incident was a direct attack targeting the archaeological aspect of the survey. Quasar was agitated in a way that I found consistent with ally victim of a personal attack.

Now Quasar had piqued my interest. I knew that I wasn't supposed to bother with motive, but I couldn't stop myself from asking, "Who would care?" And when I saw his face fall in utter dejection, I quickly added, "I mean, who would want to keep you from doing such important work?" Quasar attempted to drag a freckled, bony hand through his tangled mess of red curls, but found the spiderweb of hair too embroiled to traverse. As he tried to pull his fingers from where they were caught, deep in his rat's nest, he shared his opinions and theories as though he'd been hypothesizing for some time. A lot of criminal investigating is timing. And knowing when to ask the right question is my forte. While Quasar was in the midst of a very long-winded answer to my query, I decided that it was a good thing there would be no charges pressed, as the list of possible suspects was, in Quasar's opinion, quite lengthy. Quasar was acutely aware of the many factions who had vested interests in Cobscook Bay and he led me through his understanding of the situation as we moved slowly in the direction of my ride home.

Quasar thought the damage could have been done by any member of two large, extended families of lobster fishermen who worked on Cobscook Bay, the Alleys and the Beals. It seemed that, like the legendary Hatfields and McCoys, these two families had been feuding for nearly a century. So many generations into the fight, no one remembered exactly what had caused the rift. But everyone knew that a battle was presently being waged in Cobscook Bay, and it was all in the name of lobster. According to the scientist, this was the gear war that had escalated to exceed all gear wars. This controversy had gone beyond the occasional molesting of the other side's fishing gear-lobster traps, in this case. Quasar, who had been in Cobble Harbor for only a few days, had learned of beatings, burnings, and sinkings. "A reasonable person might speculate that a threat from a third party like North Atlantic Shell Farms might cause the Alleys and Beals to join forces against their common enemy. Their sheer strength in numbers could make aquaculture impossible here if they banded together and went about defeating the project legally. But these aren't reasonable people. So it could have been either family, or both, or neither." Quasar ran a hand along the badly battered metal housing of the magnetoscope as if caressing a wound.

"And then there's the Native Americans," Quasar continued. "Both the Passamaquoddy and Maliseet tribes claim to have aboriginal rights to fish Cobscook Bay unencumbered by state or federal rules. Once the lobster traps come ashore, the Indians move into the bay to harvest sea urchins."

"Wouldn't the Native Americans encourage your research if they felt the results would protect some ... Well, if they believed there could be evidence of ..." I struggled with the politically correct terminology.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from FISHERMAN'S BEND by LINDA GREENLAW
Copyright © 2008 by Linda Greenlaw. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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