Bushnell on the books: “Dear Maine” and “Bad Medicine”

Dear President: The Trials and Achievements of Major Migrants in the Twenty-first Century Written by Morgan Riley and Reza Jalali; Al Jazeera Press, 2021; 192 pages, $19.95; ISBN 978-1-952143-19-9.

Dear President: The Trials and Achievements of Major Migrants in the Twenty-first Century

The famous British writer John Berger (1926-2017) carefully wrote: “Forced or selected migration, across national borders or from village to city, is the ideal experience of our time.” This is certainly true today in Maine.

“Dear Maine” reveals the pervasiveness of Berger’s prophetic words, with the movement of people between continents and countries dramatically and dramatic. In recent years, Maine has seen a rise in immigration from foreign lands, bringing vitality, hope, dreams, imagination, and energy.

This is a robust set of 20 “article-style profiles” of immigrant men and women who have recently settled in Maine. The stories of their travels reflect their fear, uncertainty and doubt, as most of them fled violence, war, poverty, and political, religious and cultural persecution. The authors spent six years on this project, a notable effort to highlight the sacrifices and contributions of immigrants.

Riley and Jalali selected 20 immigrants from 18 countries, who tell their stories with both grace and enthusiasm. For these men and women, their stories have happy endings in Maine. They and their families are safe, healthy, and prosperous Americans, and important contributors to their new home. However, their travels were often terrifying nightmares of death, injury, disease, abuse, corruption, and sacrifice. Many of them never saw their families again. The lucky ones were well educated and spoke English, and the transition to a new life was difficult for others.

Two Somali women were elected to Maine city councils; One Iraqi man is a professional boxer. A Russian girl learned English while watching The Simpsons on TV, with funny results. The articles also provide amazing insight into the oppressive, brutal, and deadly conditions in their home countries. No wonder people are fleeing countries like Syria, Bosnia, Rwanda, Russia and El Salvador.

Their stories and successes are positive examples of why “everyone should have a chance”.

Bad Medicine: Medical Thriller by Jeffrey M. Cooper; Maine Authors Publishing, 2021; 249 pages, $15.95; ISBN 978-1-63381-248-2.

Bad Medicine: Medical Thriller

French biologist Jean Rostand (1894-1977) wrote of scientists: “Nothing deceives the world like early truth.” Either that or the scientist deliberately falsified the research data for another purpose.

“Bad Medicine” is the latest medical thriller from Ogunquit author Jeffrey Cooper, featuring research scientist Dr. Brad Parker and his lover and FBI agent Karen Richmond. This is Cooper’s third mystery involving these characters, after “Non-disclosure” and “Forever”. And that’s so much better – tightly wrapped, suspenseful, sexy and believable. Cooper is a retired cancer researcher and academic officer with strong professional credentials for his provocative writing. This could easily be called “Bad Pharma”.

Parker holds a temporary job as director of the Maine Institute for Translational Research in York, a cancer research facility. There is a problem between two scholars vying for the position – one an all-star, the other hated by everyone: especially the pompous faculty. Parker has to solve this problem, but he quickly smells mice — accusations of research sabotage, threats, false data, and apparent poisoning of patients in a lung cancer research clinical trial.

Parker’s head is down, but fortunately, the FBI’s Richmond background brings clarity and focus to what has become a murder investigation. He’s smart, but she’s smarter, more elusive, and more ruthless. He makes a bad decision that leads to blackmail, but she finally bumps into the only evidence that opens the case.

Cooper’s clever plot timely reveals that drug research scientists are cynical, arrogant, egotistical, greedy high-opinionists and low morals — bad combinations when in bed with Big Pharma. Then he gets rid of a cold-blooded assassin and the battle for office acquires new significance. The plot twists and fast action make this story fun and scary.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.