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NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS by Maureen Milliken: Book Review

Newspaper reporter/editor Bernadette “Bernie” O’Dea’s life has been chaotic since her move to Redimere, Maine.  In Cold Hard News, which takes place several months before this book begins, Bernie and the town’s new chief of police, Pete Novotny, were involved in a murder investigation and a struggle for their lives; it looks as if history is repeating itself.

No News is Bad News, the second book in this series, opens in 2009, but it has its true beginning several years earlier in Philadelphia.  At that time Pete was a detective searching for a missing teen, JP Donovan, the youngest child in a very dysfunctional family.  The police had had no luck in tracing JP over a two-year period, despite an almost obsessive investigation on Pete’s part.

Then, four years after JP’s disappearance, a boy is found in Redimere’s woods by a local police officer.  After he’s brought to the police station, the youth initially refuses to talk to anyone.  Finally he walks over to a wall covered with flyers of missing children, points to a photo of JP, and says, “That’s me.”

After Pete picks the teenager up in Redimere and drives him back to Philadelphia, the Donovans, mother and sister, welcome the boy with open arms and even have a huge party to celebrate his return.  So why does Pete feel as if the whole event is staged?  Would any mother say a boy was her son when he wasn’t?  Pete doesn’t understand it.  Even though Pete has left Philadelphia and moved to Redimere to head its police department, he hasn’t forgotten about the Donovan case.

At the same time, Bernie is struggling with a variety of issues.  She’s determined to keep the town’s weekly newspaper afloat, but at times it seems like an uphill battle.  She also wants to make sense of the unexpected appearance at her home of her youngest brother, Sal.  He tells her he’s been fired from his teaching job for plagiarism, something Bernie can hardly believe.  He’s invited himself to stay with Bernie until he figures out how to tell their extremely accomplished parents and siblings about his being fired and until he decides what he wants to do with the rest of his life.  Bernie is (mostly) happy to have his company, but she’s not certain Sal has told her the whole story.

And to add to the above mix, Bernie isn’t sure about her feelings for Pete.  He’s told her he loves her, but her response has been only silence.  She likes him, certainly, but is she ready for love?

Maureen Milliken has written a terrific mystery.  The fast-paced plot is totally believable, as are the characters, and the small-town setting works to help the reader understand life in a northern Maine town where everyone knows everyone else.  Bernie O’Dea is a heroine to watch.

You can read more about Maureen Milliken at this web site.

You can read the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.


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