A Maine murder mystery by retired attorney Robert Fuller of Winthrop includes Franco-Americans among the novel’s main characters.

“Unnatural Deaths” is Fuller’s first novel.  His 35 years as a Maine lawyer is evident in the book’s mystery plot, spotlighting how diligent crime solving skillfully tracks down killers wherever they are in the world.  Fuller begins his story with a police 911 call after the discovery of a body on a remote logging road in one of Maine’s unorganized townships. 

Quickly, the plot turns to a double murder scheme that traces its motives to an international criminal operation with Russian and mob connections.

A fictional Maine mill town named Coburn is the location of the murders but the motives are international in scope. In fact, the criminals and murderers are eventually done in by the fascinating crime fighting capabilities of Fuller’s chief character, Maine state police detective Martin Counihan.

Assisting with Counihan’s investigation is a network of Maine characters, including some who intentionally have Franco-American names, says Fuller.

Some characters are based on a composite of personalities Fuller created from the lawyers, lobbyists and law enforcement people he met during his Maine legal career.

One lead character is a Franco-American attorney named Laurent “Larry” Pelletier who Fuller says is a fictional composite of Augusta attorney Severin Beliveau and other lawyer friends.

In the story, Pelletier’s brother is one of the two murdered men.  Counihan’s detective skills and Pelletier’s legal expertise unwind a sophisticated real estate scheme involving the sale of the Coburn mill.  Eventually, an international drag net is launched in search of the killer or killers of the two Maine victims.

“I wanted Franco-American characters in my novel because one third of Maine people have a Franco-American heritage,” he says.  Although Maine novels tend to include lobster fishing characters or game wardens, Fuller says he wanted Franco-Americans in his story because their unique culture have, for the most part, been neglected by Maine fiction authors, he says.  Also, “Unnatural Death” begins in a typical Maine mill town familiar to Franco-Americans.

“Unnatural Deaths” is a well developed story describing good procedural police work with lots of Maine culture embedded in the plot.  References to Maine landmarks like Baxter State Park add to the book’s enjoyment.

Meanwhile, while readers are connecting the story’s murder dots, Fuller embeds the plot with research he did on how modern detectives catch criminals.
“Successful police work is the result of good analytic minds,” he says. 

Fuller, 71, says he wrote many legal papers during his law practicing days with Pierce Atwood in Augusta, but “Unnatural Deaths” is his first work of fiction.  It took four years to write “Unnatural Deaths”, but he’s already thinking ahead to a second story with Detective Counihan as the lead character. 

Although Fuller grew up in Massachusetts, he attended college in New Jersey and law school in Pennsylvania.  His wife Moira is from Maine. They moved to Maine where he wanted to practice law because his family had ties to Augusta.  Fuller’s great-great grand uncle was the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court Melville Weston Fuller (1833-1910).  His Augusta ancestor was an 1853 Bowdoin College alumnus, who began his professional career as a city councilor and the owner of a newspaper titled “Augusta Age”.  After the newspaper folded, he moved to Chicago to practice law in Illinois.  His legal expertise caught the attention of President Grover Cleveland who appointed Fuller to Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1888. 

“Unnatural Deaths” is a good Christmas gift for readers who enjoy a Maine mystery while learning how murders are solved and prosecuted.  It will soon be available in electronic format. For more information check the website http://www.unnaturaldeaths.com/