by Robert G. Fuller, Jr.
Why would anyone want to kill Harvey Coburn? This question
perplexes Maine state police detective Martin Counihan. Two of
Coburn's hunting companions, enroute to Coburn's hunting camp
deep in the Maine woods, find the owner of Coburn Shoe lying in
the woods road with a bullet in his skull. Later that day, the
Coburn police discover another body in the parking lot of an
Appalachian Trail entry point. This victim is Blackie Pelletier,
a worker at Coburn Shoe and the brother of Laurent Pelletier, a
powerful, well-connected Maine lawyer. Counihan explores several
leads and discovers the startling fact that the murders he is
investigating resemble two others, one in Rhode Island and one
in Georgia. Is there a link, Counihan wonders?
A Russian businessman from Brooklyn, New York buys the Coburn
factory. His company intends to import vitamins made in Eastern
Europe, bottle them in Maine and sell them to nationwide to
health-conscious Americans. The employees of Coburn are relieved
to maintain their jobs and the Maine governor is pleased to take
the credit for bringing in
a non-polluting industry.
As Counihan probes further, he learns that there also may be a
connection between the Russian and the two murders in Coburn. Meanwhile
Pelletier, haunted by his brother's death, uses his own contacts within
the legal system, attempting to assist Counihan without impeding the
detective's own investigation. He discovers that the Russian, now
his client, is not all he appears to be. Counihan's dogged efforts lead him to
Harvey Mishkin of the FBI's Russian task force and Talia Skibinskaya, a
savvy former New York investment banker who becomes a confidential
informant. In a crackling ending, Maine and federal authorities descend
on those responsible for these two unusual murders in the small
Maine mill town and bring them to justice.
About the author
Robert G. Fuller, Jr. practiced law in Maine for
about thirty-five years. He also served in the Judge Advocate General's
Corps of the United States Navy as a reserve officer. During his career,
he developed extensive contacts among Maine trial lawyers and judges, law
enforcement personnel, prosecutors and forensic analysts, all of which
have contributed to the authentic flavor of this novel.
Fuller's years in Maine have given him the ability to convey the way
Maine people express themselves. He has a keen ear for the local
vernacular of those who work in law enforcement as well as the lawyers
and the ordinary citizens of Maine. Having practiced in Augusta, the
state capital, he understands how Maine government, its bureaucrats,
legislators and lobbyists operate. But Unnatural Deaths is more than a
regional work. Danger and mystery, the unraveling of a complex factual
skein, vivid personalities and intriguing plot twists are common
elements in any good crime novel. Fuller skillfully interweaves all
these elements in lapidary prose with a Maine accent.
|Praise for Unnatural Deaths
|Whether Fuller is discussing the bureaucracy of
Federal law enforcement, the general way in
which murder investigations are conducted in Maine, or providing a
thumbnail sketch of life on Portland's Munjoy Hill, it is clear he has
done his homework and his writing, while fiction, rings true. With his
skillful use of idiom he deftly sketches his characters so that they
immediately materialize in the reader's imagination, and he enlivens his
narrative with a sense of humor.
-Fernand LaRochelle, Assistant Attorney General
(Retired), Criminal Division, Maine Attorney General's Office
|Fuller's debut novel tells a story of
murder and related plots by organized crime solved through diligent
police work rather than flashes of insight. Yet, due to the author's
considerable experience and probing mind, the narrative does not become
tedious. He constructs his characters and their subcultures with such
skill as to make each incident a story in itself. Particularly well
described is the stark contrast between the gangsters' lack of moral
sensibilities and the essentially decent ethos of rural Maine people.
The novel's setting stimulates the reader to think deeply about how
readily the innocent and friendly inhabitants of small-town Maine and
their elected officials can be duped into unknowingly supporting
the evil of seemingly wholesome, helpful outsiders. One is left with a
disturbing sense of vulnerability and a warning to be cautious.
- Henry F. Ryan, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner (Retired), State of Maine.
"An excellent portrayal of diligent police work."
- Kennebec Journal
"Engaging and eminently readable...showcases the best
of life in small-town-Maine."
- The Town Line
"A fine job of capturing the interworking of police
agencies...excels at developing believable Maine characters."
- Maine Lawyers Review
“Unnatural Deaths” is a well developed story describing good
procedural police work with lots of Maine culture embedded in
the plot. References to Maine landmarks like Baxter State Park
add to the book’s enjoyment.
- Maine Sunday Telegram