Pub Date Sep 28, 2015
by Brenda Buchanan
Mystery & Thrillers
A Joe Gale Mystery
Maine newspaper reporter Joe Gale is at his best when covering the crime beat for the Portland Daily Chronicle. In the dead of winter he heads Downeast to cover the murder trial of fisherman Danny Boothby, charged with burying a filleting knife in the chest of politically well-connected social worker Frank O’Rourke.
O’Rourke held a thankless job in a hard place. Many locals found him arrogant, but say he didn’t deserve to die. Others whisper that O’Rourke got himself killed through his own rogue behavior.
After Joe’s hard-nosed reporting provokes someone to run him off an isolated road, he realizes his life depends on figuring out not only who committed the murder, but who’s stalking him—O’Rourke’s prominent brother, friends or enemies of the dead social worker or members of Boothby’s family. As he digs deeper, Joe uncovers enough secrets and lies to fill a cemetery. He’ll have to solve this one fast…or his next headline may be his own obituary.
“Hiya there, Mr. Reporter,” she said with a smile. “Can I help you?”
Cover Story is the second book written by Brenda Buchanan in the Joe Gale mystery series, featuring a contemporary Maine newspaper reporter covering the crime section for the Portland Daily Chronicle.
As the novel opens, Joe Gale has been sent by his newspaper to cover the murder trial of a thirty-year-old fisherman, Danny Boothby, accused of the murder of a social worker, Frank O’Rourke, kid brother of prominent politician.
Danny Boothby “had lost his wife to cancer two years earlier, leaving him alone to raise his twelve-year-old daughter, Corrine. O’Rourke had been investigating reports the girl was neglected”.
The victim was stabbed to death, and speaking of him alive, a lot of local people thought he was an arrogant jerk, and now think he deserved to die as a result of his own actions.
Harrison blew air through his lips, making a farting noise. “I don’t think of it as a murder. I think of it as the day that Frankie O’Rourke finally got himself killed.”
Joe starts his investigation, and digging, digging, he uncovers that… someone is stalking him, someone who does not want to come close to the truth, someone who willing to use violence to eliminate people who are asking around the wrong kinds of questions.
I have not read Quick Pivot, Buchanan’s debut novel and first book of Joe Gale series, but despite this I have to say that it is perfectly understandable, clever, well-written, with a funny sense of humour that does not diminish the tension.
Social conflict between the rich and haughty O’Rourke, and the poor and angry Boothby’s “friends”, even it is only mentioned, it is well characterized in a few passages of dialogue:
“You won’t be fighting them for the last blueberry muffin.” She haughtified her voice. “Mr. Speaker and the rest of the O’Rourke family have private accommodations in a luxurious oceanfront home in Machiasport. Away from the hustle-bustle of downtown Machias.”
Cover story is a detection story in which instead of the classical detective or FBI agent, there is a newspaper reporter (as the author, former newspaper reporter) who investigates on a murder.
Technically speaking, Cover Story is written in Joe’s first person limited point of view, in the hard-boiled tradition. Joe isn’t an omniscient narrator, and this allows that the tension of the evolving of the action is more incisive and progressive. We are unaware and blind as Joe, during the action, and this creates (with his sympathy) a bond of empathy with the character.
In terms of plot, elements such as the technical details, the defence strategy, witness statements, help to give authenticity and realism to the development of the trial, Brenda Buchanan has a law degree from the University of Maine and practices law in Portland.
Among the characters Emma Abbot, the psychologist, at the end of the novel reveals a few surprises that will ruin the ambitions of our Latin lover Joe, giving him a life lesson. Happy reading!
Brenda Buchanan is a former newspaper reporter with deep reverence for small town journalism. Her mysteries feature Joe Gale, an old-school reporter with modern media savvy who covers the Maine crime beat for the Portland Daily Chronicle. Brenda holds a journalism degree from Northeastern University in Boston and a law degree from the University of Maine. She writes and practices law in Portland, where she lives with her spouse.
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to an early digital Advanced Readers Copy of this book.