Another great novel by Kate Flora

Kate Flora Playing God


Kate Flora is one of my favorite writers, and not just because she helped retired game warden Roger Guay with his wonderful new book, A Good Man with a Dog. While her novels are at the top of my favorites list, Kate’s 2015 true crime book, Death Dealer, is also remarkable. It’s about the search, by Maine game wardens with their dogs, for a killer in New Brunswick. You’ll be very proud of the Maine Warden Service when you read Death Dealer.

I haven’t had much time lately to read my favorite novelists, because I’ve got quite a stack of books to read and review. But I was at the town library recently, saw a shelf of Kate Flora’s novels, and couldn’t help myself. But which to choose? There’s a bunch of Thea Kozak mysteries, and more Joe Burgess mysteries. I grabbed Playing God and dived in that night, finishing it the next day as Linda drove us toward a week’s vacation in Lubec.

This morning, I’m staring out at one of the most magnificent ocean views in the world, just a quarter mile from where my Mom grew up, looking toward Lubec’s West Quoddy lighthouse where my great grandfather was the keeper for 32 years. What a great place to write!

Kate Flora teaches writing and is past international president of Sisters in Crime. She is a partner in Level Best Books, which publishes anthologies of crime stories by New England writers. There is lots more info on Kate at her website,

Death Dealer was published in 2006 and is a compelling tale about a seedy physician whose sordid life gets him killed, when a sharpened metal rod is jammed down his throat. There are lots of suspects, from angry family members of his former patients, to the prostitutes he often enjoyed, to the very wealthy father of his wife, to his wife who would certainly have been able to plead justifiable homicide.

Joe Burgess is a detective who just about kills himself trying to figure out who killed the doctor. Kate is an insightful writer, and I particularly like that aspect of her books and characters. Burgess does a lot of soul searching through his own life as he searches for the killer.

You’ll have to read the book to find out if he succeeds. And as soon as we return from Lubec, despite the tall stack of books awaiting my review, I’m going to grab one more of Kate’s novels.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.