Bay State Skye
Publisher’s Weekly Review
Petrie’s entertaining novel is based on the story of the Bay State Skye, a ship found floating empty, its crew lost to the sea, near Gloucester, Mass. In August 1990, brothers Jimmy and Murph Sweeney are headed to port aboard their lobster boat when they come across the Bay State Skye, awkwardly circling outside the Gloucester breakwater. When they pull alongside, they find that its owner and crew are nowhere to be found, presumed lost at sea. The Sweeneys also note that the boat had been dragging inside state limits, which is illegal, and has gathered hundreds of pounds more than the legal limit of 100 pounds of lobster. The illegal fishing has also damaged the equipment of lobsterman Johnny Higgins, who could be financially devastated by the loss, but it helps to unite his community in a fund-raiser for him. The fish and lobster catch from the Bay State Skye is brought to market, but when bouts of bad luck and unfortunate events follow various transactions, including sales losses due to shipping accidents, the fishermen begin to believe the catch is cursed. Petrie’s novel includes fascinating details about both the fishing industry and market; readers will find themselves caught up in the stormy excitement and the tantalizing touch of mystery.”
—Publishers Weekly (12/17/2018)
BookLife Prize Review
“Inspired by true events, this well-researched intriguing novel exposes the occupational hazards embedded in the Gloucester, Mass., fish and seafood trade in 1990. Vivid, pungent, and layered in deceit, the story verges on an eye-opening look at a lucrative industry as opposed to a work of fiction.
Backed by countless interviews and the author’s firsthand knowledge and experience, the carefully-edited narrative reveals time and place through authentic descriptions and colloquialisms. The author’s tendency to focus on minute details creates an experience to be savored, rather than quickly devoured.
Illegal acts on the ocean, a popular theme in fiction, may encompass any profession, yet this memorable book stands apart—an intricately-planned historical immersion in Cape Ann that will make an indelible impression on a jaded connoisseur of adventure novels.
Candid protagonists in this character-saturated novel take the story in many directions. Their development spins doubt and suspense and triggers double-takes.”
“Reading a good book written by an experienced ‘sea person’ and successful author . . . is what I would call easy living. Bay State Skye provided the extra special ingredient for escaping the heat of the day and returning to 1990. I enjoyed the entire book, especially the gurry plant chapters, for I was directly involved in the controversy. Petrie’s detailed reporting of the results of the shut down of the plant was extremely well done.
Mr. Steve Connolly’s (Jack Flannery) ability and willingness to take control of difficult problems showed those in the Gloucester fishing business that he was a natural leader. He had a positive impact on the fishing industry of Gloucester. This is why he was chosen to lead the effort to solve the disposal of the waste product caused by the state mandated shut down.”
—Roy Spittle, Gloucester business owner
“. . . evidence of the quietly engrossing nature of this work; the mystery lures readers in, and the suspense throughout effectively holds their interest.”
—Kirsten, Kirkus copy editor
“The book (Bay State Skye) inspired me to go down to Gloucester . . . It was fun imagining the characters going about their lives there as we drove around.”
—Liz Pease, copy editor
“Well researched, believable characters, suspenseful mystery! Historical fiction done well! A story centered around a cursed catch and reported accident at sea, set within an accurately portrayed Gloucester fishing industry comes to life throughout the novel.
The mystery of the Bay State Skye is a page-turner, and you’ll quickly make it to the very last one before it’s solved. But that’s not the only reason to keep reading, as Petrie expertly weaves together a cast of believable and relatable characters, each with his or her own story to thicken the plot. The place-based account of life in a seaside town after the discovery of the abandoned Bay State Skye highlights the true-to-life camaraderie, competition, and community so engrained in the seafood industry and in Gloucester in particular. Petrie’s description of fishing, processing, managing, and selling adds to the story while maintaining an admirable level of detail and accuracy.
As a local, I enjoyed reading a tale set in a Gloucester of the past, complete with cameo appearances by both still-standing and long-closed venues, restaurants, and well-known landmarks. I’d especially recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, other locals, or those with ties to the sea. Thanks for an enjoyable and entertaining read!”
—Kelsey T. Amazon customer (4/4/2019)
“A fun read that captures the local fishing industry well. I work in fisheries and know a number of seafood dealers, processors and fishermen, from Gloucester and throughout New England. This book was a fun read with characters that felt true to life. Folks involved in fishing are hardworking, superstitious, community-minded, and sometimes rough around the edges, just as Ms. Petrie portrays them. The major plot line follows the catch of the Bay State Skye as it is sold and distributed, and a secondary plot line tracks the industry’s need for a solution to a fish waste problem, at times with fairly hilarious results. Different chapters focus on different characters, with everyone being linked through a connection to the Bay State Skye and its catch. This approach to storytelling introduces the reader to a large number of characters and perspectives, and I enjoyed the chance to see the various events of the book from different viewpoints. However, when I was done with the book, I found myself wishing that there had been greater focus on the development of just one or two characters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others who want to get a realistic feel for the seafood industry in New England.”
—Michelle S. Bachman, Amazon Customer (3/26/2019)
“An enjoyable read and unique novel of historical fiction and faction, served up with mystery, suspense, humor, mischief, economic hardship, the pull of the sea, greed, fear, politics and gritty work of fishing and getting fresh fish and lobsters to market, with political maneuvering over a hot potato of fish gurry. Not to forget a nor’easter of lobster meat. Petrie draws you into this period piece with layered, rounded, and flat characters with choices made, loves lost, misfortunes. The natural world of the ocean meets the mechanical mess of modern life. I love cross-genre books and this author pulls it off.”
—James Masciarelli (1/15/2019) Goodreads Author
—Mary P., Amazon Customer (4/23/2019)
“Fun, local read about the Gloucester fishing industry. This was a fun read that felt like a movie script. The characters read like real people and the main mystery of the book is revealed nicely in an abrupt but well laid out ending. I particularly enjoyed reading the behind the scenes facts about the cutting rooms and holding tanks, things I never think about when eating lobster at Woodman’s. Being a local, it wasn’t hard to see the closeness of fact and fiction, but I enjoyed the realness of the characters and felt it was authentic.”
—Amazon Customer (2/6/2019)
“I really enjoyed it! The characters were interesting, the industry details were captivating, it was humorous, suspenseful and I did not guess the ending.”
—Hannah Adelman (03/21/2019)
“Great story about the Gloucester fishing industry and the people involved in it. With a little mystery included. Awesome book!”
—Stephanie McDermott (7/19/2018)
“A great read of suspense and intrigue involving the New England fisheries!!”
—Amazon Customer (7/21/2018)
“I have read books by this author previously and was interested to read this one. I love historical fiction. Beautifully written, this book takes you behind the scenes of Massachusetts’ fishing industry. It gives you a view of the hard working men and women who choose to fish for a living. You get the feeling you can relate to these characters. It feels as if you know them. I did not realize how much political influence there is in the industry or ties to crime by some.”
—Amazon Customer (9/16/2018)
“As if there weren’t enough drama in one of the nations oldest fishing communities, now we have a series of mishaps centered around the town of Gloucester, MA, that may all be tied to one troubled catch!
This is a great tale of mystery that weaves through the daily goings on in and around one of the most famous fishing towns in the United States.
The author cleverly blends a fictional mystery narrative into the real world fishing business in Massachusetts.
From the backbreaking work of fishing and processing, to the profit driven push of sales and marketing; When there’s this much pressure and tension, there’s always someone to blame.
Maybe now, there’s some THING!”