cover image Once Burned: A Jack McMorrow Mystery

Once Burned: A Jack McMorrow Mystery

Gerry Boyle. Islandport (, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-939017-60-4

Plot, characterization, atmosphere—everything works in Boyle’s excellent 10th Jack McMorrow mystery (after 2010’s Damaged Goods). Needing a story to sell to the New York Times, freelance crime reporter McMorrow begins investigating minor cases of arson in the town of Sanctuary, Maine, anointed a “hidden treasure” by a travel magazine and about to become a real estate bonanza. But the fires grow larger as the arsonist’s self-control crumbles, while townspeople’s ugly prejudices emerge as they try to preserve their community’s seemingly perfect image. Meanwhile, McMorrow is increasingly concerned at how his social worker wife, Roxanne, is letting a disturbed young woman, Beth, insinuate herself into their home; Beth confuses her dead child with their trusting five-year-old daughter, Sophie. As McMorrow keeps stirring the pot, people start dying. Readers who enjoyed Robert B. Parker’s ability to create smart, convincing heroes with a tough-guy surface but warmly empathetic interior will welcome this worthy successor. (May)