The most satisfying books about hardscrabble life on the coast of Maine fill your nose with the pungent odor of salt air, give you a sense of worn linoleum on the floor and set your pulse in synch with the pull of the tides and the rhythm of seawater lapping along the shore. “Hull Creek,” a fast-moving novel by veteran writer Jim Nichols of Warren, offers all these enticements — and more.

The story it tells, set primarily in the area from Rockland to Owl’s Head, onshore and off, may be fiction. But the collision it records as familiar lobstering areas morph into utopias for summer home-owners “from away” is not. The consequences of that collision — and the pressure bearing down on fishing families to conform to new realities — gives weight to all that happens in the book .

Troy Hull, the newest generation of one such family, has returned to his home town of Pequot after the death of his parents to become a lobster fisherman like his father. For a while things go well. Then the prosperity fades. Strangers buy up shoreland — for vacation homes, privatizing access to the water. The lobster haul diminishes. Traps come up empty or rattling with detritus Hull cannot use. Income plummets.

“You’ve got a beautiful piece of property there, and we both know this isn’t a fisherman’s town any more,” a local banker and former schoolmate tells Hull, who is fast finding out the truth of that change for himself.

Coastal property has become too valuable to let it stay in the hands of fishing families anymore.

Hull’s friend, Bill Polky, no stranger to shady deals, spells it out for him directly. “See, this place is too good for … you,” he says, looking around Hull’s shoreline property. “Some lawyer should be living here, … not a dumb-ass lobster fisherman like you. Right now they’re figuring out the best way to get you … out, Troy. Then they’ll plow this house under and build something modern. They’ll put up their No Trespass signs along the road. They’ll post the other side, too, so nobody can have picnics on the rocks and kids won’t make a lot of noise. They’ll put in a tennis court, private use only. If you come up the creek with a dip net, they’ll walk down and stare at you to let you know you ain’t welcome. … Tell me where I’m wrong.”

And, of course, Troy Hull has nothing to say.

It is that sense of one man up against an indifferent current of history powered by wealthy strangers and media types who care nothing about him that charges “Hull Creek” with suspense. Can a fisherman hold on? If so, how much can he hold on to? In Hull, a reader meets a man who may lose in some historic sense but is not about to give up.

Nichols pulls his story taut, using both the ocean and the diminishing solitude of the coast to give Hull a stage on which to act. He may be no match for history, as it rolls over him and his heritage, but he is more than a match for the future that awaits. And he chooses the right way to meet it.

Maine’s roots are here, and they are well worth our time and attention. “Hull Creek” uses a suspenseful tale of change to show us that prosperity may be found in the paved driveways that lead to swanky summer homes, but nobility often lives in a trailer parked not far away on a dirt road with a sense of the past and a wide view of the water.

Nancy Grape writes book reviews for The Maine Sunday Telegram.