Red Dawn delivers great New England crime stories

Red Dawn


I was drawn in by the words “Best New England Crime Stories” at the top of the book, Red Dawn, the final book in a series that has been published annually for six years. I love true crime stories, and thought that’s what this was. Surprise! These are all works of fiction

But they are soooo good that I had a hard time putting the book down, hooked on the very first story by John Bubar. “They came for me just before sunrise,” he writes. “Classic timing. Between midnight and dawn, significant biological changes occur within the body: temperature drops, heartbeat slows, blood pressure falls. People with normal schedules would be at their least alert. Me, I’d been up for twenty-four hours, hacking the encrypted email system of a Fortune 100 company, chugging energy drinks, searching for inside information on possible merger.”

Well, I just had to keep reading and I didn’t stop until the last page, a very amusing finish from Mark Ammons, who was “finally at a loss for words.” In between Bubar and Ammons you will find among the authors many from Maine, including one of my favorites, Kate Flora, a former Maine Assistant Attorney General and author of 14 books, including Death Dealer, an Agatha and Anthony nominee and Grant You Peace which won a 2015 Maine literary award.

Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries is here in an intriguing story titled The Perfect Woman. And no, turns out the main character is not a perfect woman! Dorothy Connell, who was born in England and moved to Maine with her husband in 2004, is here, along with Bruce Robert Coffin, an award-winning artist and retired police detective. The Reaping is Bruce’s first published story. I hope there are more coming!

Annelisa Johnson Wagner, a New Hampshire native now living on the Maine coast, is a middle school teacher and member of Writers of Words, a writing group. Her story here is the first she’s published, but she has a novel coming soon and I will be all over that. Judith Green, former adult education director in an 11 town school district in western Maine, has written 25 books for adult students, and her mystery stories have been published in each of the New England Crime Stories published by Level Best Books.

Sanford Emerson, retired after 35 years in law enforcement and corrections in Franklin County, who now has a Christmas tree farm and woodworking business in Wilton, published his first work of fiction in Red Dawn, a story set in Dallas Plantation. Frenchy Plourde had been found frozen to death on the floor of his cabin. “Most of his 300 or so neighbors in Dallas Plantation, Maine, weren’t too upset when they heard about his passing” writes Emerson, “as they’d all of them borne the brunt of his lewd, crude, and rude behavior for years.” Hey, I think I knew that guy!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.