Local author publishes Narrows Crossing Restaurant inspired crime novel

Mar 17, 2024

While investigating a fire that consumed a commercial scalloper in the fictional world of Paul Rooney’s first novel, “Widows Cove,” the leading protagonist finds himself leaning on none other than Steve Poole, the bartender of the book’s titular tavern. 

These names may sound quite familiar to any Narrows Crossing Restaurant regular — Rooney himself being among them. 

“They say write about what you know,” Rooney said. “So that’s what I did.”

Rooney’s 468-page crime novel, “Widow’s Cove,” was titled after the existing cove in Onset and was inspired in every regard by Massachusetts’ South Coast. 

Rooney, who is a therapist by trade, said he had always wanted to write a book. And after cutting back his hours, taking time off and several years of work, he managed to do just that while capturing much of what he knows and loves.

The fictional Widow’s Cove Tavern is situated on Union Street in New Bedford. The book’s main character, Rob Ragusa, is a detective from the Boston FBI field office, sent to investigate a fire that consumed a commercial scalloper and the mysterious absence of a crew member just as the ashes settled.

In the novel, Ragusa relies on Poole’s knowledge of the waterfront and underground activity, which unveils a massive drug smuggling operation.

Rooney said Poole, who works at the Narrows, stood out to him as a character for his novel simply for his life story. He explained how Poole left a high paying banking job in his 40s and ended up in Wareham starting a whole new life.

“It’s a true story and a Hemingway kind of story,” he said. “He’s an interesting character.”

Additionally, Rooney said Ragusa was named in memory of another person in his life at the request of his wife. 

In preparation for the novel, Rooney conducted a number of interviews, including with individuals at the Narrows, the Coast Guard, a retired state trooper and a number of fishermen. 

Not only did he learn a lot about the fishing industry during this process, but he had to do a lot of relearning when it came to writing. 

Though he wrote a number of papers while completing college and his Ph.D., none quite used the approach needed for writing a crime novel. 

“I had never written in the first person before, which was difficult to learn,” he said, adding how he is still in the process of learning. 

Rooney said he hopes to write more, adding he imagined the process to be much quicker — and more affordable. 

However, he said, “It’s been a positive experience so far. Most people are enjoying it!”

The book is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon.