Tuesday 23 March 2021



Synopsis/blurb ......

Jack is back in this dynamic re-release of best-selling crime writer Gerry Boyle’s first novel.

Meet Jack McMorrow, a hard-hitting crime reporter for the New York Times, now living in the backwoods of Maine, near the paper plant in Rumford. Jack's there to run the local paper, but when a unpopular photographer is found drowned in a nearby canal, Jack gets drawn into a complicated game that has kept members of the town silenced and in fear for their lives.

Maine may be the place where life is as it should be, but McMorrow finds out staying alive may be harder than he thought.

I've had an eye on this author's books for a while now without ever taking the plunge until now. I do like an investigative journalist/reporter type tale where the main guy usually fights crime by exposing corruption. Gerry Boyle has written a dozen or so books featuring his newspaperman Jack McMorrow.

Well I'm not saying the book started off slow, but I think I had a full length beard by the time I reached the end of the first chapter. By around the 100 page mark, it was touching the floor. In fairness things did speed up slightly after that, though my pet tortoise, still a bit sluggish post-hibernation was still moving at the speed of light compared to pedestrian Jack. 

At the risk of repeating myself, to say things took a while to get going, might be an understatement. A freelance photographer who does some work for McMorrow's newspaper, turns up dead by drowning. The circumstances are slightly suspicious. The area the victim was found is quite isolated and there is no vehicle in the vicinity, so how did he get there? The police are tending towards suicide. The man had no close friends or relatives to care or make a fuss. Jack McMorrow is the only one who seems remotely interested, including this reader. 

Eventually things get going. McMorrow and his girlfriend get targeted, physically and via distressing messages. We discover more about the photographer and what he may/may not have been upto. There's another major plot point concerning a story McMorrow is working on regarding the paper plant and their overbearing influence as the town's major employer and the pressure they bring to bear on local government and the town's tax revenues.. ie we can't afford to pay our dues, reduce the bill or we upsticks and relocate. McMorrow finds them pulling a similar stunt in other locations. Is the plant or it's agents ie. disgruntled employees responsible for the attacks on McMorrow and does it connect in some way to the drowning death or are there other nefarious forces involved?

Read it and find out.

I'm not one for giving up on books. I always continue in the sometimes vain hope that things will improve and get better. I think if this had been a printed copy as opposed to an Audible book, my resolve may have been severely tested. It did get better. I did kind of enjoy it by the time we got to the end. I was interested in getting answers to all the different questions posed regarding the murder and the who, and the how and the why. I would have enjoyed it better, if it had been a much leaner, faster read.

3 from 5

I do have more from Gerry Boyle on the pile. I wonder if he gets things going a bit sooner in his second series book. Not rushing towards it, but I'll get to it at some point. 

Read - (listened to) February, 2021

Published - 1993

Page count - 376 (9 hrs 48 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible


  1. It certainly sounds like an interesting premise (and setting) for the story, Col. ANd I agree that an investigative reporter can make for an effective protagonist. Sorry to hear that the book didn't move faster for you, but I do like the premise.

    1. Margot, I enjoyed it and was a bit frustrated by it in equal measures.

  2. You’re right about the deliberate pacing of this novel. And not always in a slow-burn-controlled-suspense sort of way. But as a former small-city newspaperman, I found enough to savor here to stick with the series in a when-I-get-to-it way.

    1. Jim, thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed it more as it went on and things actually began to happen. Musing aloud, I wonder if this book would get published today, whether an editor/agent would have the patience to get into it. I'm keen to see if the second is just as slow to get going.

  3. I think I would like this series, at least the setting, although I don't need to be buying more books now.

    I find it hard to give up on books, Col, and usually I don't regret finishing them. Right now I am reading a 700 page historical novel set in Victorian times that is testing my will to kepp going.

    1. I think you might like it Tracy. Maybe you will cross paths with it or another in the series at your annual book sale event.

      I can't give up on any book either - ssome sort of Catholic guilt thing I think. Slow reads I put on the back burner and read a chapter a day until either they pick up or the book ends.