Unnatural Deaths...A Novel
by Robert G. Fuller, Jr.

Robert Fuller
Why would anyone want to kill Harvey Coburn? This question perplexes Maine state police detective Martin Counihan. Two of Coburn's hunting companions, enroute to Coburn's hunting camp deep in the Maine woods, find the owner of Coburn Shoe lying in the woods road with a bullet in his skull. Later that day, the Coburn police discover another body in the parking lot of an Appalachian Trail entry point. This victim is Blackie Pelletier, a worker at Coburn Shoe and the brother of Laurent Pelletier, a powerful, well-connected Maine lawyer. Counihan explores several leads and discovers the startling fact that the murders he is investigating resemble two others, one in Rhode Island and one in Georgia. Is there a link, Counihan wonders?

A Russian businessman from Brooklyn, New York buys the Coburn factory. His company intends to import vitamins made in Eastern Europe, bottle them in Maine and sell them to nationwide to health-conscious Americans. The employees of Coburn are relieved to maintain their jobs and the Maine governor is pleased to take the credit for bringing in a non-polluting industry.

As Counihan probes further, he learns that there also may be a connection between the Russian and the two murders in Coburn. Meanwhile Pelletier, haunted by his brother's death, uses his own contacts within the legal system, attempting to assist Counihan without impeding the detective's own investigation. He discovers that the Russian, now his client, is not all he appears to be. Counihan's dogged efforts lead him to Harvey Mishkin of the FBI's Russian task force and Talia Skibinskaya, a savvy former New York investment banker who becomes a confidential informant. In a crackling ending, Maine and federal authorities descend on those responsible for these two unusual murders in the small Maine mill town and bring them to justice.

About the author

Robert G. Fuller, Jr. practiced law in Maine for about thirty-five years. He also served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Navy as a reserve officer. During his career, he developed extensive contacts among Maine trial lawyers and judges, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and forensic analysts, all of which have contributed to the authentic flavor of this novel.

Fuller's years in Maine have given him the ability to convey the way Maine people express themselves. He has a keen ear for the local vernacular of those who work in law enforcement as well as the lawyers and the ordinary citizens of Maine. Having practiced in Augusta, the state capital, he understands how Maine government, its bureaucrats, legislators and lobbyists operate. But Unnatural Deaths is more than a regional work. Danger and mystery, the unraveling of a complex factual skein, vivid personalities and intriguing plot twists are common elements in any good crime novel. Fuller skillfully interweaves all these elements in lapidary prose with a Maine accent.

Praise for Unnatural Deaths

Whether Fuller is discussing the bureaucracy of Federal law enforcement, the general way in which murder investigations are conducted in Maine, or providing a thumbnail sketch of life on Portland's Munjoy Hill, it is clear he has done his homework and his writing, while fiction, rings true. With his skillful use of idiom he deftly sketches his characters so that they immediately materialize in the reader's imagination, and he enlivens his narrative with a sense of humor.

-Fernand LaRochelle, Assistant Attorney General (Retired), Criminal Division, Maine Attorney General's Office

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Book Cover
Fuller's debut novel tells a story of murder and related plots by organized crime solved through diligent police work rather than flashes of insight. Yet, due to the author's considerable experience and probing mind, the narrative does not become tedious. He constructs his characters and their subcultures with such skill as to make each incident a story in itself. Particularly well described is the stark contrast between the gangsters' lack of moral sensibilities and the essentially decent ethos of rural Maine people. The novel's setting stimulates the reader to think deeply about how readily the innocent and friendly inhabitants of small-town Maine and their elected officials can be duped into unknowingly supporting the evil of seemingly wholesome, helpful outsiders. One is left with a disturbing sense of vulnerability and a warning to be cautious.

- Henry F. Ryan, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner (Retired), State of Maine.

"An excellent portrayal of diligent police work."

- Kennebec Journal

"Engaging and eminently readable...showcases the best of life in small-town-Maine."

- The Town Line

"A fine job of capturing the interworking of police agencies...excels at developing believable Maine characters."

- Maine Lawyers Review

“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.

- Maine Sunday Telegram