Wanting take advantage of Maine’s glorious Septmber weather, my husband and I spent a day on Monhegan Island. This small island, only about one square mile, is one of our favorite places to get away and hike. Camera mandatory. We booked the ferry Elizabeth Ann ahead and were lucky with the weather. The twelve-mile ride from the village of Port Clyde took us past the Marshall Point Lighthouse, another favorite haunt.

I thought I might set a story on Monhegan, so as we rode the ferry away from the mainland, I started plotting. The island has a small year-round population but boasts a thriving fishing community. In summer tourists and artists fill the island’s cottages, hotels, and galleries. And maybe my fictional murderer or his victim, I told my husband. He just rolls his eyes when I suggest these worst-case scenarios.

The ferry left us at the village dock and we hiked up past the Island Inn, where we’d stayed overnight on a previous visit. The inn is quaint and cozy, and our room had a balcony overlooking the harbor. A good vantage point from which a criminal hiding out could watch the comings and goings of ferry passengers. Hmm, my plot began to cook.

Monhegan’s trails are extensive, about twelve miles. For our few hours before the ferry returned, we chose the cliff side trails. We hiked through the village, and in the schoolhouse yard, found the Tercentenary Tablet that commemorates John Smith’s voyage to the island in 1614. We entered the cool shade of the woods, fragrant with pine and balsam, and climbed through a fairy glen, where children had built stick houses for the wee ones. We emerged from the woods onto White Head, among the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline.

A man standing nearby aloud from his guidebook that the undertow there was dangerous and the waves unpredictable. On that clear day, we could see the islands of Isle au Haut and Matinicus, and beyond to the broad Atlantic. Anyone who fell in—or was pushed—would be swept away to Spain. Aha, I’d found my murder site. Steep, with giant waves crashing on the rocks below. Isolated—except for the crush of people taking pictures and looking through binoculars. Oh well, I’d set the story during another season. During a storm.

Before I ruined the scenic interlude for my husband, he dragged me away back to the trail. this next photo is of the village, taken from Lighthouse Hill. We had lunch in the village and bought pottery as a souvenir before boarding the ferry to return to Port Clyde.

If you go to Monhegan, put my plotting out of your head and enjoy the island. If anyone has experiences on other Maine islands to share, I’d love your comments.

About susanvaughan

Susan Vaughan loves writing romantic suspense because it throws the hero and heroine together under extraordinary circumstances and pits them against a clever villain. Her books have won the Golden Leaf, More Than Magic, and Write Touch Readers’ Award and been a finalist for the Booksellers’ Best and Daphne du Maurier awards. A former teacher, she’s a West Virginia native, but she and her husband have lived in the Mid-Coast area of Maine for many years. Her latest release is GENUINE FAKE, a stand-alone book in the Devlin Security Force series. Find her at or on Facebook as Susan H. Vaughan or on Twitter @SHVaughan.
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  1. This is great, Susan. I once plotted a mystery on a bus trip around Greece. The fellow passengers offered perfect suspects, victim, and potential killers. Alas, I put my notes in a bag, and then put an apple in the bag, forgot both, and the apple did my notes in. It sure was fun, though.

  2. Julianne Spreng says:

    No reason why it couldn’t happen on a moonless night late in the evening during high tourist season. Lots more suspects!

  3. Barbara Ross says:

    I love Monhegan, though my visit there was less productive than yours, plotting-wise.

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