Tag Archives: Boston

Being Mary Ro by Ida Linehan Young

One might be forgiven if, after seeing the book’s cover, they think Being Mary Ro (2018, Flanker Press) is another stereotypical Victorian-era romance novel. In some ways it is, but Being Mary Ro is more historical fiction than it is romance, similar to Genevieve Graham’s Promises to Keep. Like that book, it is based on a historical incident and broadened to include fictional characters and other historical references.

What had she done? She was alone in the house with a possible killer. “Get hold of yourself girl” she whispered. “Don’t let your imagination get the better of your common sense.”

Here, the basis of Being Mary Ro is a diphtheria outbreak that is unwittingly spread when a stricken person is rescued from a foundering ship off the shore of John’s Pond, Newfoundland. Mary Ro’s mother Dot is a nurse, and after correctly diagnosing the patient, attempts to effect a quarantine but ends up forfeiting her life, her husband’s and others with the eventuality that Mary Ro (Mary Rourke) is orphaned (she has a brother and two older sisters who have already left home). To complicate matters, a few years later she is jilted by Peter Nolan, who promised to marry her. So, by the beginning of the story, Mary Ro, twenty-eight years old, lives alone in the house she inherited from her parents and has withdrawn into herself believing that she has somehow failed, not only in love but also in her efforts to have saved more of the townspeople from the epidemic.

It hurt terribly at first, and people in town avoided her gaze for awhile when rumours spread of his return with his betrothed. In a small town, rumours were easy. It was the pity she saw in their faces that was hard.

Then, another ship appears on the horizon, smoke billowing from it and the injured are brought ashore for medical aid, stirring up flashbacks for Mary to the diphtheria tragedy that haunts her still. Added to that is a severely injured passenger (Danol Cooper) that she finds unconscious in one of her outbuildings. Against her better judgement, she secretly brings him into the house and gives him first aid. This event also stirs up the medical training that she inherited by assisting her late mother, and she rather finds she enjoys it.

“How do you know what to do Mary?” Meg asked.
“I don’t know. It comes natural to me. Mom said I had a knack for healing. I was always around her when she was tending to people. I wanted to know everything. She taught me so many things. Da brought me books on medicine and remedies, and I was interested enough to keep it in my head. I like it.”

The drama and excitement of this mysterious stranger and the fact that there was a murderer aboard the ship turns Mary’s life around, and when Peter once again shows up in John’s Pond, her emotions are given a reawakening as well. Now there are two men in Mary’s life and a murderer on the loose. Then two young girls go missing and the quiet little outport town is suddenly terrorized.


Boston, early 20th century.

At Goodreads, I rated Being Mary Ro four stars out of five, largely due to fact that I felt this book could have ended sooner (around chapters 12 and 13). There’s enough material for a good sequel, since the sorting out of the love triangle of Danol, Mary and Peter could have been left for another book, or simply left in the reader’s mind as Mary leaves tiny John’s Pond for the bustling city of Boston. For as soon as Mary Ro lands in Boston, the pace of the book picks up and things appear to fall into place a little too hastily (not to mention easily) for Mary. So for those that like everything wrapped up by the final page, this is the story for you!

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All in all, I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying Being Mary Ro. The material is suitable for mature young readers, contains small sketches (by Melissa Ashley Cromarty) and is an excellent first novel for Ms. Linehan Young.

Being Mary Ro by Ida Linehan Young
Flanker Press

*Please note this post contains affiliate links, and if you choose to purchase the book through Amazon I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

This article has been Digiproved © 2018-2020 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Ida Linehan Young
Some Rights Reserved  

Pretty Dead (A Jack McMorrow Mystery #7) by Gerry Boyle

Pretty Dead is #7 in the Jack McMorrow Mystery series by Maine author Gerry Boyle. It is a 2016 Islandport Press reissue of the original 2003 edition. Two of his latest books in the series, Once Burned (#10) and Straw Man (#11) was reviewed here in 2016. Of note, Straw Man was the winner of the 2017 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. You know you’re getting a good read with Mr Boyle’s books.

Pretty Dead has Jack and his girlfriend Roxanne Masterton visiting the Maine coast where an allegation of child abuse (Roxanne is a social worker) has been levelled against the Connellys, David and Maddie, a wealthy blue-blood Boston family vacationing in Blue Harbor. Jack goes along for the ride but gets involved in the case when David Connelly invites him in. Then Jack’s investigative reporter mode kicks in. An attractive young woman named Angel Moretti who works for the family’s charitable foundation is later found dead, murdered near Jack and Roxanne’s home in Prosperity, Maine. Naturally, Jack is first on the scene and identifies the body. Now he is fully involved in the case which takes him to Boston (as guests of David and Maddie) where he and Roxanne sense that all is not as it appears to be in this friendly, welcoming couple. Jack gets pressured by hired muscle Mick and Vincent to stop his investigations, which only serves to make Jack more determined to get answers to his questions about the case.

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Pretty Dead is a worthy instalment in the series, but as I have read the latest books in the series first, it is easy to pinpoint a marked evolution of the characters of Jack, Roxanne and even their ex-Marine neighbour Clair Varney over time. Nevertheless, there are all the hallmarks of a Gerry Boyle mystery: terse, snappy dialogues and turns of phrase worthy of a Hammett or Chandler:

“It occurred to me that Angel’s problem wouldn’t be hooking up with men, but setting the hook so deep they couldn’t be released.”

“When we rolled into Blue Harbor, the air was brisk and cool. Summer people in the village had sweaters tied around their necks by their sleeves, like they were being strangled by pastel ghosts.”

Book #8, Home Body, is also on my “to-be-read” list, so we’ll see what’s in store for Jack and Roxanne next in that book. All of Gerry Boyle’s Jack McMorrow series are being reissued by Maine’s Islandport Press.

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2AtDVW5  Thanks!

This article has been Digiproved © 2017 James FisherSome Rights Reserved