Books about gangsters and hiking intrigue Northern Michigan readers

GAYLORD – Books about gangsters, a 1980s murder in Gaylord and some of the Lower Peninsula’s best hiking spots top the list of books that have intrigued readers who visit a Northern Michigan bookstore.

Lindsay Kline of Plot Bound Books at 131 W. Main St. in Gaylord has compiled a list of books that are popular with her readers.

“Anything to do with birds, trees and mushrooms seems to be popular,” Kline said recently. When asked to narrow down the most popular books with a connection to Northern Michigan, Kline came up with this list:

  • “Gangsters Up North” by Robert Knapp
  • “Wicked Takes the Witness’s Point of View” by Mardi Link
  • “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett
  • “50 Hikes in Michigan” by Jim DuFresne
  • “Finn Has Anxiety” by Kiera Raymond

Gangsters in the north

Northern Michigan remains a popular four-season tourist destination, and Robert Knapp’s book helps readers discover the bootleggers, gamblers and gangsters who traveled north for fun and profit.

Knapp, a professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkley, told the News Review in 2020 that gangsters came north for the same reasons many others visit.

“They were fundamentally interested in two things; investments in gambling and recreation,” he said. There was also some interest in bootlegging during Prohibition. However, he says these lawbreakers in the north were “not interested in murder and mayhem.”

One story that appears to be authentic is that John Dillinger Sault Ste. Marie in the company of one of his associates, John Hamilton, a resident of the Soo. Dillinger and Hamilton traveled north in April 1934 to avoid detection, and enjoyed a brief reunion with Hamilton’s sister Anna Steve and her family.

Shortly afterwards, a local jury found Steve guilty of harboring the criminals and sentenced her to four months in prison. Hamilton died a short time later from wounds suffered in a shootout with the FBI, although Dillinger remained at large until federal agents shot him in Chicago in July 1934.

Wicked takes the witness’s point of view

In a guest column for the News Review in 2015, former Herald Times reporter Vicki Naegele, who wrote extensively about the case for the newspaper, examines Mardi Link’s book about the murder of Jerry Tobias, an oil field worker whose body was found in the back. his pickup in 1986 behind the Gaylord Fire Hall.

“From then on, the case would make headlines for a decade until the men imprisoned for the crime were acquitted,” Naegele wrote.

"Tom More," by Ann Patchett.

Tom More”

Ann Patchett is the author of nine novels, including Tom Lake, a meditation on childhood love, marital love, and the lives parents led before their children were born.

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters will return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. As they pick cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years ago at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara remembers the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationships with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew, according to

50 Hikes in Michigan

Author Jim DuFresne said he has a deep-seated passion for two things: sunsets and the coastline. “No doubt a result of living my entire life in the two states that have more coastline than any other, Alaska and Michigan,” he said.

Each chapter starts with an overview of each hike: the type of hike, total distance, time, difficulty level, highlights, maps and GPS coordinates of the route. Readers will learn the best way to access the trail, tips and suggestions, and key features to look out for along the way, such as scenic views, drinking water, rest areas, waterfalls and old trees.

DuFresne will appear at the Otsego County Library, 700 S. Otsego Ave. on March 19 at 6 p.m. in Gaylord.

Finn has anxiety

This is a children’s book about a curious and adventurous cat named Finn who suddenly begins to experience feelings of fear. As Finn’s world becomes filled with worry and fear, he struggles to understand what is happening to him, according to

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Fortunately, Finn’s loving parents are there to guide him through this difficult time. Together they help Finn learn to recognize and manage his anxious thoughts and feelings. From deep breathing exercises to positive self-talk, Finn discovers a range of tools he can use to manage his anxiety and regain control of his life.

With colorful illustrations and recognizable characters, ‘Finn Has Anxiety’ is a good book for any child struggling with anxiety or other difficult emotions. Author Kiera Raymond lives in Northern Michigan.

Contact Paul Welitzkin at

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