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Friday, April 29, 2016


4 stars out of 5

Some of my favorite authors don't hesitate to tackle issues important to them - Brad Thor and John Grisham come to mind immediately. But Gott im Himmel - in this one, the editorializing nearly obliterates the story. And that's too bad because there is a story here, and, IMHO, a darned good one. 

I came close to missing it; after a few chapters, I'd grown so weary of the bashing of the wind energy industry, "crooked" politicians, newspapers and business leaders that I actually considered giving up. Now that I'm finished, I'm very glad I hung in there, and I thank the publisher for offering me a copy for review. My 4-star rating, in fact, is based on the underlying story - with the caution to other readers that  they'll have to ride out a soapbox derby to find it.

In fairness, though, the ever-increasing wind turbine farms in Maine is not only central to the plot here, but an important environmental issue: Their presence, particularly in such large numbers, clearly is harmful to wildlife and humans (hence the title of the book) while bringing, not insignificantly, the lure of huge profits to proponents. Hey, I'm from northeastern Ohio, where the big issue now is fracking; trust me, I get it. But in a work that's touted as fiction, the constant haranguing is, well, overkill.

I'll also note that this is the author's second book featuring former Special Forces veteran Pono Hawkins, who mostly spends his civilian life surfing in Hawaii (the first is Saving Paradise, which I have not read). This book stands alone well, though; I didn't realize there was a previous book until after I'd finished it. That said, when the main character mentioned on a couple of occasions, "As I said in that other book..." I did wonder what the heck he was talking about. 

Here, he's called to come to Maine - in the dead of winter, yet - to help former Special Forces teammate Bucky get out of jail after being charged with murder (as well as a successful shootout that destroyed a couple of wind turbines). Problem is, Bucky and Pono aren't even close to being friends; Bucky's testimony back in the day helped put Pono in prison (he was exonerated shortly thereafter), and then he had the audacity to marry Pono's girlfriend Lexie. But loyalty to the corps trumps everything else, so Pono reluctantly says goodbye to the ocean waves and heads to the Pine Tree State, where his own ancestors are lying (probably in unrest, given the current environmental issues).

Then things start to get muddled - and very cold. For openers, Bucky is less than cooperative despite his insistence that he's innocent. In short order, Pono becomes the target of an unknown sniper, and as one might expect, his lust for his pre-prison flame Lexie returns with a vengeance. The course of his investigation also puts him in close contact with the murder victim's widow, Abigail, and long-ago girlfriend Erica, now a hot-shot attorney. For sure, there's plenty of contact to go around; the sex scenes really aren't graphic, but they're plentiful enough that I started to suspect that while the incessant whine of those turbines may be destroying the hearing of local folks,  it's making them very horny as well.

The corrupt powers-that-be, of course, aren't happy to find Pono's nose in their big business. At every ice-covered turn, he's thwarted by local police, who seem intent on putting him behind bars again. And in the middle of all this, Pono learns that his beloved father, who's still in Hawaii (where the government also is corrupt, BTW), is dying of cancer. Pono needs to get back to see him, but that won't be easy when the police are eyeing his every move. Besides that, his efforts could be putting the three women with whom he's enamored in danger. And there's this: If the corruption is as entrenched as he believes, even if he's able to track the identity of the culprits, nothing will be done about it.

Some editing would be helpful here and there - a few words are omitted in sentences, and it struck me as odd when a character whose grammar has been almost impeccable suddenly  pops up with, "I didn't do nothing." Of course, how it all works out in the end I won't reveal, but I'll certainly repeat that this is a story worth reading. 

Killing Maine by Mike Bond (Mandevilla Press, August 2015); 388 pp.

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