Summers in Maine

Take a trip down memory lane to long summers spent at the camp or at the family house on the coast. The memoir is lovingly built and gives a believable and charming picture of family summers spent in Maine in the 1960s. Up to the point where tragedy strikes and the reader encounters the dark side of backwater America.

Casco by E. R. Beecher was published by Booknooks; the book is available on Kindle. It takes the form of a double memoir of two step-brothers spending their summer holidays in Maine with their grandmother at the summer house on the beach. The memoir is presented by one of the brothers after the death of the other in the 1990s. As it is all edited by the surviving younger brother, you still get one point of view; there is no hassle in trying to reconcile contradicting accounts.

Maine summers serve for any summering place on the coast or even in the mountains. No matter where you spent your summer holidays, the descriptions of the small things that made up that magical time will resonate with you. The slow changes in these small things as the bothers grow older will feed on your own memories of growing up.

It is not often that you find a story about murder where the characters take center stage over the murder mystery. This is one of them. The people living in between the covers take on a life of their own, taking readers along to enjoy the little things that make long summer holidays so beautiful. As the boys grow older, the tensions grow with them.

Suspense builds up naturally and needs no artificial push from the author. The slow drifting apart of the brothers is inevitable when the older tries to come to terms with being gay when it isn't an option. The problems in a close knit family when a (then) unspeakable secret intrudes on it is slowly and cunningly evolved by the author. When tragedy strikes, it is unexpected. The murder disrupting the family idyll is brutal, senseless, and seemingly unconnected to them. It will be left to the younger brother to uncover the truth.

The beauty in the story is concealed in its telling. There is no Hollywood style drama and detailed descriptions of agonizing thought processes to be found anywhere in the book. All the drama and the agonizing is left to the reader's imagination. At the end of the book, the reader is left with the wish to know more about the older brother who died.

Further reading
Poking Fun at Book Critics
A Holiday to Die For
Mystery in The Pyrenees Mountains