James H.K. Bruner will launch his third mystery thriller “The Bike Cop in the Shadow of Dog Island Light,” at The Center in Lower Village Sept. 3. Set in the fictional community of Port Talbot, folks will see some similarities to Kennebunkport, where Bruner spent many a summer growing up.These days the Florida attorney spends summers in Arundel, where he writes. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – James H.K. Bruner walks through the Colony Hotel like a guy who knows every nook and cranny of the place. From the restaurant overlooking the swimming pool, he makes his way through the building to the back parking lot, stopping along the way to open a door that shows a view to the inner workings of the venerable hotel.

He knows his way around it because he worked there summers as a teen, busing tables, washing dishes and being the pool lunch chef.

It was all part of growing up on Ocean Avenue, where his father, Laman Bruner was the longtime rector of the seasonal St. Ann’s Episcopal Church.

Bruner, a Florida attorney who continues to come back in the summer – these days staying in Arundel – is the author of a trilogy of mystery thriller novels. And while his books are set in the fictional town of Port Talbot, those who live locally will see similarities – like the image of the big, white hotel on the cover of his first book, “The Bike Cop in the Greater Weight of Evidence,” or the stone church building in the second, “The Bike Cop in Son over the Yardarm.”

“The Bike Cop in the Shadows of Dog Island Light” debuts in September.

The Bike Cop is David, “Digger” Davenport, who gets a job working for the Port Talbot Police Department as a summer officer in the mid 1970s. And while the twists and turns of the plot will remain a mystery – so as to not give away the ending – it’s pretty obvious from the cover of “The Bike Cop in The Greater Weight of Evidence,” there’s a dead body involved.


The second book, “The Bike Cop in Son Over the Yardarm,”  involves a fabled curse.The third book in the trilogy, “The Bike Cop in the Shadow of Dog Island Light” flashes back to the 1860s.

Bruner, whose family hailed from Albany, New York, said he started coming to Maine as a child with his parents, first to Castine, then to Winter Harbor, and in 1963 to Kennebunkport. He worked at The Colony, for Mabel Hanson at Mabel’s Lobster Claw, at Arundel Wharf and Sea Spray. He met Gretchen in Kennebunkport, who was also from Albany, and after dating a few years, they married – his father performed the ceremony at St. Ann’s.

As their family grew to six children, Bruner said he would tell them stories at night, making them up as he went along.

“I wanted to pass the memories of Ocean Avenue along for my children,”  he said, recalling the days riding his bicycle down the winding roadway, next to the ocean, free as a bird. “I wanted to capture that for my kids, and I was always a storyteller. I’d make up stories, and they’d clamor for more.”

He was in his mid-50s when he decided to write his autobiography.

“Two chapters in, I said ‘this is boring,'” he recalled.


He decided to write a novel.

“I said I need a hero that confronts the issues of that particular day, and I need him to be a good example for my kids,” said Bruner, and so Digger Davenport, the bike cop, emerged.

His books are in more than 30 retail outlets in the Kennebunks, and he said the reception has been good.

Bruner said he has more books to write, but isn’t saying if they’ll feature Digger.

“I like the idea of a trilogy, and we’ll see how demand goes,” he said.

The launch of “The Bike Cop in the Shadow of Dog Island Light” takes place at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 at The Center, 175 Port Road in Lower Village Kennebunk.

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