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by Mark Arsenault
Poisoned Pen Press, July 2003
318 pages
ISBN: 1590580591

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lowell, Massachusetts, is like many old mill towns in New England. It's a dying city, peopled by immigrants and the descendants of immigrants.

The Boott Cotton Mills which had been the backbone of the city since 1835 finally closed in 1955, leaving many empty buildings and unemployed workers. There was a blip of prosperity during the computer boom days when Wang and allied companies set up giant offices on Route 128, but that's gone also.

Eddie Bourque is a political reporter for the Lowell Empire following a story that he hopes will bring him back to the big time. But his editor and the city politicians don't want to publish negative stories, because they want to raze the immigrant neighborhood and build expensive condos. When a story of the shooting of a drug addict in a local park is rewritten by an editor, he gets a bit testy.

Then a body is dredged from the river. It's his beat partner, Denny Nowlin. The publisher refuses to follow up on the story. When Eddie is beaten and nearly killed, it gets personal. Despite the fact that the Lowell Empire won't publish any of it, he keeps digging.

Mark Arsenault is a journalist for the Providence Journal on the political beat. This is his first novel. The style is breezy. Eddie Bourque is an engaging protagonist. The secondary characters are well developed. And so is the city of Lowell.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, November 2003

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