Massacre Pond (Mike Bowditch Series #4)

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Massacre Pond is Edgar finalist Paul Doiron's superb new novel featuring Game Warden Mike Bowditch and a beautiful, enigmatic woman whose mission to save the Maine wilderness may have incited a murder

On an unseasonably hot October morning, Bowditch is called to the scene of a bizarre crime: the corpses of seven moose have been found senselessly butchered on the estate of Elizabeth Morse, a wealthy animal rights activist who is buying up huge ...

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Massacre Pond (Mike Bowditch Series #4)

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Massacre Pond is Edgar finalist Paul Doiron's superb new novel featuring Game Warden Mike Bowditch and a beautiful, enigmatic woman whose mission to save the Maine wilderness may have incited a murder

On an unseasonably hot October morning, Bowditch is called to the scene of a bizarre crime: the corpses of seven moose have been found senselessly butchered on the estate of Elizabeth Morse, a wealthy animal rights activist who is buying up huge parcels of timberland to create a new national park.

What at first seems like mindless slaughter—retribution by locals for the job losses Morse's plan is already causing in the region—becomes far more sinister when a shocking murder is discovered and Mike's investigation becomes a hunt to find a ruthless killer. In order to solve the controversial case, Bowditch risks losing everything he holds dear: his best friends, his career as a law enforcement officer, and the love of his life.

The beauty and magnificence of the Maine woods is the setting for a story of suspense and violence when one powerful woman’s missionary zeal comes face to face with ruthless cruelty.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The people of Washington County, Maine, are in an uproar in Doiron’s fourth novel starring game warden Mike Bowditch (after 2012’s Bad Little Falls), the best yet in the series. Hippie-turned-millionaire Betty Morse has spent some of her fortune to buy 100,000 acres of woodland that she intends to give to the federal government for a national park. Morse now has a long list of enemies, including hunters and forest-product workers whose lives and finances would be adversely affected. The first manifestation of the hostile reaction to Morse’s purchase may be the shooting of five moose on her property. The state of the carcasses suggests that whoever gunned down the animals didn’t do so for their meat. Bowditch is first on the scene of the moose slaughter, but his unpopularity with his superiors soon relegates him to spectator status, even as the violence escalates. An unusual lead investigator, thoughtful plotting, and lyrical prose add up to a winner. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. (July)
From the Publisher
“The strikingly beautiful Maine woods contrast against a killer’s ugly agenda in this tightly written novel, superbly performed by Henry Leyva.” – Wisconsin Book Watch

“Narrator Henry Leyva creates a plausible down-to-earth voice for Bowditch, the quintessential person of integrity up against corrupt and lazy superiors. It’s easy to imagine Leyva’s Bowditch kicking back and leisurely recounting his experiences to a friend over a drink.” – Publishers Weekly

Bad Little Falls is a jewel of a book.  Doiron has gotten it all magnificently right: a hell of a good mystery, beautifully drawn landscape and characters so evocatively written they follow you off the

page.  Buy this.  The guy can write.” —Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of Rope

“Doiron’s third Bowditch entry is riveting and honest, with full-depth characters and a landscape that isn’t cutting any slack. Readers of Nevada Barr and C. J. Box will enjoy this similar tale, with the added surprise of a refreshing hero whose youth and inexperience Doiron skillfully twists into an asset.” —Booklist

“A high-stakes, high-tension yarn in which you keep wishing everything would turn out fine for the deeply flawed, deeply sympathetic hero.” —Kirkus

“Excellent . . . a murder case with some truly wicked twists. Dorion matches strong characters with effective prose and subtle characterizations. Fans of Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series, likewise set in a remote region close to Canada, will find a lot to like.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
Readers following outdoor procedurals will snap up Maine game warden Mike Bowditch's fourth riveting case (after Bad Little Falls), which involves an animal activist whose ideals threaten her family's safety and open the door to unexpected violence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611738407
  • Publisher: Center Point
  • Publication date: 11/28/2013
  • Series: Mike Bowditch Series , #4
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 431
  • Sales rank: 1,451,932
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Doiron

Bestselling author PAUL DOIRON is the editor in chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine. A native of Maine, he attended Yale University and holds an MFA from Emerson College. His first book, The Poacher's Son, is the winner of the Barry award, the Strand award for best first novel, and a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony awards. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine with his wife, Kristen Lindquist.

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Read an Excerpt




The first time I laid eyes on Billy Cronk, I thought he was the biggest badass in the Maine woods: six-five, braided blond hair, a tangled mess of a beard. He had arms that could have snapped a two-by-four over his knee for kindling. The night I arrested him for hunting on posted property, I kept my hand close to my pistol, wondering if this wild blue-eyed bruiser would be the death of me.

As a game warden, I’d met more than my share of roadhouse brawlers and die-hard deer poachers, and I understood that most violent men are cowards. Billy Cronk was different. He never doubted his physical prowess and had no need to prove himself against lesser men. He accepted the summons I wrote without forcing me to wrestle him into handcuffs. In fact, he thanked me for it, lowering his eyes out of embarrassment. The more I learned about the man, the more he surprised me.

He’d been a rifleman in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one of his duties had been picking up the pieces of friends blown up by roadside bombs. Back home in Maine, working as a hunting and fishing guide, he’d gutted his share of black bears and hoisted them on a pole for smiling hunters to pose with for photographs. He’d seen coyotes disembowel fleeing deer they’d chased onto frozen lakes, leaving bloody paw prints on the ice. Once, while fly-fishing, he’d watched a school of bass gulp down a row of ducklings while the mother beat the water with her wings. Billy Cronk understood that nature was as indifferent to the moral sensibilities of twenty-first-century human beings as humans themselves were.

Our friendship had taken us both by surprise, since I was the game warden who’d gotten him fired from his job at the Call of the Wild Game Ranch. At my urging, in exchange for dropping the illegal-hunting charge, he had informed on his asshole boss for various crimes and misdemeanors, the least egregious of which was letting loose a live skunk in the trailer of the district game warden (me). When his employer told Billy to go to hell, the news hit him hard. Despite all the atrocities he had witnessed, there was a surprising innocence about the man, as if he never expected the worst from anyone, and so found himself on the receiving end of one disappointment after another. It was in his makeup to be continually heartbroken.

Billy had avoided me for the first few months after his termination, but we’d kept running into each other on the same trout streams, and eventually we struck up a conversation that revealed we shared a favorite book, an obscure Siberian adventure called Dersu the Trapper. I had never taken Billy for the literary type. His first take on me was equally unflattering. In his estimation, I had a stick permanently wedged halfway up my ass. But we were the same age—twenty-six—and loved the North Woods in a way few other people seemed to understand.

The last time I’d visited his house, I’d come upon him stripped to the waist, chopping firewood in the backyard. The glittering late-autumn sunlight made his tanned arms and chest look like they’d been cast in bronze. Billy usually wore his long hair in a braid, but he’d let it loose for the afternoon, and my first impression, when I saw him whaling away with an ax on a defenseless hunk of oak, was of a Viking marauder driven into a frenzy by vengeful gods.

Every law officer understands the danger of making quick assumptions, but this truism applied to my new friend in spades. His sheer size and resemblance to the Mighty Thor gave him a dangerous aura, especially when you caught sight of the KA-BAR knife strapped to his thigh. In a crowded roadhouse, Billy could reduce the loudest biker to silence just by fixing him with a pale, cold stare. But I had seen tears in those same eyes while he watched his kids chasing each other like puppies around the picnic table and his soft-hipped wife, Aimee, served us Budweiser tall boys.

“I’m a fortunate man, Mike,” he’d said.

“Yes, you are.”

“Sometimes I forget, though.”

“You’ve got five reminders right there,” I said, indicating his wife and children. The blond kids were all under the age of six, dirty-faced, and confusingly similar in appearance. Billy called them the “Cronklets.”

“I wish I could do better for them,” Billy said in his thick Down East accent. “A man should be able to provide for his family. Something’s wrong with him if he can’t.”

I was between girlfriends myself, and the thought of a family of my own seemed like one of those empty promises doctors offer at the bedsides of dying patients. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Billy.”

My friend smiled, trying to humor me, but I knew he was unable to accept my assurances.

I couldn’t really blame him. I’d grown up poor myself and understood what it was like to feel the constant anxiety of unpaid bills and empty cupboards. Before my mother grew sick of my father’s abuse and alcoholism and filed for divorce, we’d lived a lot like the Cronks—holed up in drafty cabins we couldn’t afford to heat, and wearing secondhand clothing scavenged from boxes in church basements. Just that week, I’d seen Aimee Cronk at the supermarket in Machias paying for her groceries with one of those EBT food-stamp cards, and I suspected that Billy might still occasionally poach some deer for the freezer (he and I had our own don’t ask, don’t tell policy). It had taken him six months to land another job after Joe Brogan fired him.

“How’s work going?” I asked as we stood over the sizzling grill, turning venison hamburgers.

“It’s different.”

I rubbed my newly barbered crew cut. “What do you mean?”

He lowered his voice so Aimee wouldn’t hear. “Yesterday, Ms. Morse made me open a package that came in the mail. She thought it might be a pipe bomb or something. I told her we should dip it in the bathtub first, just to be safe.”

“What was inside?”

“An old book her friend bought at some auction, paintings of birds by that guy Audubon. It got kind of waterlogged. Ms. Morse threatened to deduct the cost from my paycheck. She pretended she was joking, but you can never tell with her.”

I swatted a no-see-um that had alighted behind my ear. “She didn’t recognize her friend’s handwriting on the package?”

“Ms. Morse said it looked ‘suspicious.’”

“I can’t say I blame her for being paranoid.”

Elizabeth “Betty” Morse had built a log mansion on Sixth Machias Lake on a pine-shaded point where a historic sporting camp had stood for more than a century, and now she required a considerable domestic staff to help run the property. I’m not sure what Billy’s official job title was, but he seemed to function as her personal driver, handyman, and forester—his duties dictated by the needs of the day. Increasingly, he also served as her bodyguard.

Betty Morse needed guarding. She was a former hippie who had started a small business selling dried herbs at farmers’ markets. In time, she hired some local women to help produce various types of organic teas, which she peddled to natural-food stores, first in Maine and then around the country. Eventually, she opened a factory somewhere out of state—down south, I think—and began manufacturing herbal health supplements. These pills won the endorsement of Hollywood celebrities, who, in turn, made the brand a hit with a nation of dieting housewives. When EarthMother, Inc., went public, The Wall Street Journal said Betty Morse netted half a billion dollars. She gave away some of the money to animal-rights groups and used another chunk to purchase 100,000 acres of Down East timberland, which she’d promptly declared off-limits to loggers, hunters, all-terrain-vehicle riders, fishermen, and snowmobilers. Her intention, she announced, was to donate the land to the federal government to create a new national park where timber wolves and woodland caribou would once again roam free.

The idea hadn’t gone over well with my neighbors, many of whom were employed by the woods-products industry and didn’t know where to ride their ATVs or shoot their AR-15s now that “Queen Elizabeth” had cordoned off half of Washington County. Morse told them not to worry; she promised a sunny economic future in which they would sell goods and services to crowds of tourists eager to experience a brand-new wilderness within a day’s drive of Boston. Her de facto subjects greeted this promise with skepticism, to say the least.

I was doing my best to withhold judgment on the idea, but it wasn’t easy staying out of arguments. Elizabeth Morse was the number-one topic at every diner and bait shop I visited that fall.

The number-two topic was the weird October heat.

No one in Maine could remember an autumn this insufferable. Johnny-jump-ups were jumping up for the third time outside the Washington County courthouse, and the persistence of mosquitoes in the woods behind my cabin seemed less like an annoyance and more like an ominous disruption in the natural order of things. Frustrated moose hunters blamed the seventy-degree heat for the refusal of the big bulls to leave the coolness of the peat bogs and move to the upland clear-cuts, where they could be dispatched (illegally) from the backs of pickup trucks. Even the old cranks down at Day’s General Store muttered the words global warming without their usual sneers.

Every day, going on patrol in my shirtsleeves and orange hunting vest, I experienced a sense of temporal dislocation. The foliage was fading in the treetops, and yet the sun continued to blaze like a frying pan left too long on the stove. Sooner or later, I knew, we would pay a price for this never-ending Indian summer.

So when Billy Cronk called to say that he’d stumbled on something bad on the Morse property, I figured the bill might finally have come due.

“It’s bad, Mike,” he told me in a quavering voice I’d never heard from him before. “Wicked bad.”

But what I found on Betty Morse’s estate was more than bad. It was evil.


Copyright © 2013 by Paul Doiron

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2013

    Good read

    Mike Bodwitch, intrepid Maine game warden and protagonist, continues his pursuit of solving cases; despite, and sometime in spite of, interference from his superiors. Interference and/or opposition from superiors and/or agencies higher in the pecking order appears to have become cause de rigueur in the genre. This convention however, does not distract from the story. Not quite a page turner, but a story that keep the reader coming back, and when finished, waiting for the next book in the series. Out of five stars I’d rate it as three and one half.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Highly recommended

    I highly recommend the Mike Bowditch series by Mark Doiron! If you seek mystery and adventure
    and love the main character, who doesn't play by the rules, this series is for you.Bowditch is a game Warden in Maine, keeping an eye out for poachers and solving crimes. I'm reading the fourth in the series and have pre-ordered his newest book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014


    Went to lake res1

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014


    You on?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    maine man

    ok but alitte farfetched

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    A voice to a tom

    A gray tom cat with HUGE FANGS jumps out of the shadows and claws at eyes. Frees lightkit. Run!

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Shadow wolf


    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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