June 4, 2024


A Tale of Murder on the Maine Coast

Thomas E. Ricks

Pegasus Crime



Hardcover, 208 pages

"A crackling procedural about a grieving FBI agent who sets out to solve a murder in Maine. The sturdy whodunit plot is enriched by the author’s firm grasp of his setting and a colorful cast of New Englanders who never veer into caricature. A sequel would be welcome."

– Publishers Weekly

An FBI agent finds himself in the insular world of a fishing village on the Maine coast where the rules are different—sometimes lethally so.

After his wife and two children are killed in a car crash, Ryan Tapia starts a new life in Maine. But his first case there is a puzzling oddball—the corpse of a fisherman washes up on federal land, while the man’s boat drifts into waters that are part of an Indian reservation. Ryan quickly learns the nuances of Maine life as he delves into two illicit coastal trades: hard drugs and rare fish. Many of the locals are happy to see that particular fisherman dead. What’s more, they are not shy about noting that Ryan must have screwed up pretty badly to be posted to such a remote location as Bangor, Maine.

Undaunted, Ryan works to understand the unforgiving way of life on Liberty Island, where people live by an older, harsher code. Adrift on a sailboat one day, he encounters a man from the Malpense tribe, living as a hermit on a remote island, who witnessed something that fateful day.

In his riveting crime debut,  Thomas E. Ricks turns his literary talents to land he knows deeply, from working in the Maine woods and trapping lobsters year-round. Everyone Knows But You is a rich and dynamic crime novel that brings a unique part of America to vivid, thrilling life.

Dear Reader,


The novel looks and works like a conventional murder mystery, but it really is a love letter to the coast of Maine, an appreciation of both the beauty of the place and its unique culture, very different from most of the contemporary United States. Here’s a secret about the book: Most of the names of the lobstermen and other native Mainers in it are taken from the records of soldiers from Maine who served in the American Revolution.


Non-fiction is a lot of hard work, with dozens, even hundreds, of facts to be handled in every paragraph. So, after writing non-fiction for decades, it was fun for me to turn to fiction. I think readers will also find it enjoyable. 


Thomas E. Ricks

Book Club Recipe and Menu

Grilled Lobster Rolls: In an aside in Everyone Knows But You, a shady character explains to the protagonist how he sells phony “lobstery-y” rolls to unsuspecting tourists. I put that in the story because a real lobster roll, made with fresh-caught lobster meat, is a thing of joy.


Some friends of mine once asked me to take their son, a cynical, suburban teenager, with me on Penobscot Bay when I went out to pull my lobster traps in my boat. At first, he affected boredom. But his eyes got big as I pulled the first lobster trap from the water and set it on the deck. It was loaded with some small fish, a few starfish, a bunch of crabs, and two big lobsters. Later two porpoises swam by, snorting a greeting through their blow holes. Seals watched us from nearby rocks where they were sunning. By the time we got to my last trap, he said, “Wow, every trap is like Christmas!” Then we headed back to my mooring, rowed the dinghy to shore, and went home and cooked up the day’s haul.

This is my favorite way to cook lobster, especially for kids who have just witnessed the process of catching them.

Tom’s Grilled Maine Lobster Rolls Recipe

August sandwiches: There is a period in August and September when the Maine tomatoes come in. I like them big and juicy. Slice and put on thumb-thick slices of toasted sourdough from Tinder Hearth Bakery (near Poor Farm Road in Brooksville, Maine), or a similar bread that is strong enough to hold juice. NB: This is essential—most breads will fall apart under the assault of fluid from the tomatoes and cheese. Add sliced burrata (or, failing that, sliced fresh mozzarella) and some basil leaves, the fresher the better. Drip the tomato juice from the cutting board over the top of the sandwich. Salt if you must. 

Serve with Cape Cod potato chips and a pile of paper towels.

You can get great tomatoes, fresh arugula, and even Tinder Hearth Bread from Missy Greene at Yellow Birch Farm on Deer Isle. 

Blueberries: I can no longer digest the regular supermarket blueberries because their skins are too tough for my stomach. But from about July 25 to August 24, Maine produces wild, “low bush” blueberries that are smaller, sweeter and thinner-skinned. I eat these by the handful over cereal, in pancakes, in cornbread, or even just straight. 

-Thomas E. Ricks


About Thomas E. Ricks

Enter Book Giveaway
Join our Mailing List

©Copyright 2024 The Book Club Cookbook

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Pinterest