Nothing much really happens in the north woods, that is, until you mix seaplanes, poachers, game wardens, and strangers in a mystery at the lake.
Three generations of the Parker family had grown up in the woods near Maine’s Lobster Lake. The Parkers knew the roads, trails, and lakes around their cabin better than anyone, except maybe the local game warden. It was always a peaceful and safe place. That all changed the year Joe Parker rescued a girl, the oddly dressed stranger stalked their woods, and the bandits caused some serious trouble.
The Lobster Lake Bandits is the first book in the Moosehead Mystery series.
Lobster Lake Bandits: Mystery at Moosehead starts out as a story where two old, passing acquaintances are reunited thanks to a heavily romantic dose of destiny. The beginning is set in the quintessential 1980s Northern Maine, with amazing detail describing the rustic lifestyle in the North Woods. However, during a double date, Joe, the main character, slips into a story about his past that somehow coincides with Sarah, his love interest, and a large portion of the book is told from this past perspective.
In the past, we go back to the 1950s when Joe was just a teenager and Joe is describing the events that led up to his initial meeting of Sarah and his run-ins with the Lobster Lake Bandits—a group of thugs/poachers in the area.
This story felt very personal. It was so quaint and full of wonderful nuances that a person could only gain through first-hand experience. There were so many details! You can’t get detail like what is in this book unless you’ve lived it. And it’s because of all those little details—like the moxie thermometer or the knowledge of the backroads and wilderness—that made me feel like I was actually there. I can picture this entire book. Maybe it’s because I grew up and live in Maine, but I don’t think so. I live in Maine country, but not the North Woods. I hike, and I used to camp a lot of as a kid, but I wouldn’t say I’ve spent enough time in the North Woods to be able to fully picture these places solely from my own memories—and I certainly wouldn’t be able to navigate through the terrain. No, it was the author’s amazing detail. The pictures and maps were also a great addition that made the book feel all the more personal.
I did feel like the story goes off into tangents that aren’t necessary. For instance, the main plot is the connection and love story between Joe and Sarah, but then it slips into the past, telling the reader what happened in 1956. As in, everything that happened in 1956—and even a few things that happened before then, and not necessarily in chronological order.
This book reminded me of a Russian nesting doll. There was the main plot, then it slipped into a flashback with it’s own plot, and then there was a flashback within the flashback. And while I enjoyed each part of the book, I did not enjoy the transitions. Mostly because there was never really any warning that we were going to be transitioning. And also because the deeper we were dragged into the past, the further I felt away from the main story and, honestly, I eventually stopped caring about the blooming-love story from the beginning of the book.
But I did enjoy how the author took real places and real events and morphed them into this fictional tale. That made it an enjoyable read. And I loved the main character, Joe. He just has the relaxed, no BS personality and style, and I really like that. He was just straight-forward, cut-to-the-chase.
I give this book 4 stars, because I liked it and I will probably read it again one day. It’s just one of those books with a homey feel. It makes me want to curl up in front of the woodstove while wearing wool socks and flannel.