Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitivehis own father
Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father Jack, a hard drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: they are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night beforeand his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.
Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop-killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack's brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, he strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. But the only way for Mike to save his father is to find the real killerwhich could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.
Paul Doiron's The Poacher's Son is a sterling debut of literary suspense. Taut and engrossing, it represents the first in a series featuring Mike Bowditch.
About the Author
Bestselling author Paul Doiron is the editor-in-chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine. A native of Maine, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine with his wife, Kristen Lindquist. His books include The Mike Bowditch Mysteries (Trespasser, Bad Little Falls).
Read an Excerpt
The Poacher's Son
By Paul Doiron
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2010 Paul Doiron
All rights reserved.
A black bear had gotten into a pigpen out on the Beechwood Road, and it had run off with a pig. There were bear tracks in the mud outside the broken fence and drag marks that led through the weeds into the second-growth timber behind the farm. The man who owned the pig stood behind me as I shined my flashlight on the empty pen. He had called me out of bed to drive over here, and his voice over the phone had been thin and breathless, as if he'd just run up a hill.
"Warden Bowditch," he said, "I never seen nothing like it."
His graying hair was wet from the rain that had just stopped falling. He wore an old undershirt stretched tight over his swollen belly and a pair of wash-faded jeans that hugged his hips and exposed an inch of white skin above the waistband. He carried a .22 caliber rifle over his shoulder, and he was holding a sixteen-ounce can of Miller High Life. His eyes were as red as a couple of smashed grapes.
It was a hot, humid night in early August. The thunderstorm that had just finished drenching midcoast Maine, five hours north of Boston, was moving quickly out to sea. A quarter moon kept appearing and disappearing behind raggedy, fast-moving clouds that trailed behind the storm like the tail of a kite. Crickets chirruped by the hundreds from the wet grass, and far off in the pines I heard a great horned owl.
The bear had clawed apart the plank fence as if it were a dollhouse, leaving a pile of splintered boards where the gate had been.
"Tell me what happened, Mr. Thompson," I said, moving the beam of the flashlight over the puddled ground.
"Call me Bud."
"What happened, Bud?"
"That bear just scooped him up like he was a rag doll."
I shined the light against the farmhouse. It was a clapboard frame building with a broken-backed barn that looked about to collapse and a chicken coop and toolshed out back. Behind the house was a dense stand of second-growth birch and alder with pine woods beyond. The bear had only to cross thirty feet of open field to get to the pigpen.
"You said you saw the bear attack him?"
"Heard it first. I was inside watching the TV when Pork Chop started screaming. I mean squealing. But you know it sounded like screaming." He slapped a mosquito on his neck. "Anyhow, I looked out the window, but it was raining, and I couldn't see a damned thing on account of how dark it was. Then I heard wood snapping and Pork Chop screaming and I grabbed my gun and came running out here in the rain. That's when I seen it."
Now that I was close to him I could smell the heavy surge of beer on his breath. "Go on."
"Well, it was a bear. A big one. I didn't know there were bears that big around here. It was reaching over the fence with its paw, leaning on the fence, and the boards were just snapping under its weight. And poor Pork Chop was back in the corner, trying to get away, but it wasn't any use. The bear just hooked him with its claws and pulled him in."
"How come you didn't shoot it?"
"That's the thing of it. I did, but I must have forgot to load the gun." He rubbed his hand across his wet eyes and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "It wouldn't have really attacked me, would it?"
"I doubt it." There are no recorded reports of fatal black bear attacks on humans in the state of Maine, but I'd read of fatalities in Ontario and Quebec, and it was probably only a matter of time until something happened here. "You were right not to provoke it, though. If you'd shot the bear with a .22 you probably wouldn't have killed it, and there's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal."
Except a drunk with a gun, said a voice in my head.
"I loved that pig." He swung the rifle off his shoulder and held it up by the strap. "I wish I'd shot that son of a bitch."
"You shouldn't handle a firearm when you've been drinking, Bud."
"He was the smartest pig I ever had!"
I raised my flashlight so the beam caught him in the eyes. "Do you live alone here?"
Whether it was the light or the question that sobered him I don't know, but he blinked and ran his tongue along his cracked lower lip and looked at me with renewed attention.
"My wife's moved out for a while," he said. "But she'll be back before too long." His expression turned pleading. "You don't need to talk to her, do you?"
"No. I just wondered if anyone else saw what happened."
He scratched the mosquito bite on his neck. "I got an old dog inside. But he's deaf and just about blind."
"I meant another person. You said you hadn't seen the bear around here before. Is that right?"
"I didn't even know there were bears this near the coast. You don't think it'll come back here, do you?"
"Probably not, since you don't have another pig. But I see you keep some hens." I gestured with my flashlight toward the chicken coop, using the beam to draw his attention. "The bear might come back for the hens, although I doubt it will. Why don't you go inside and put that gun away. I want to take a look in the woods."
He glanced at the trees and shivered. "Be careful!"
I watched him shuffle away into the house, head hanging, beer in hand. No wonder his wife left him, I thought. Then I remembered my own empty bed back home and I stopped feeling so superior. Sarah had been gone exactly fifty-five days. Earlier, I'd gone to bed thinking that it would be fifty-six days when I woke up, but that was before Thompson called. So here it was fifty-five days again.
I got to work measuring the paw prints in the mud. They resembled the tracks a barefoot person might leave walking along a beach. Judging by the distance between the front and hind feet, I figured it was a medium-sized bear, two hundred pounds or so.
I followed the drag marks through the field, and the rainwater that clung to the weeds soaked through my pants legs. The trail disappeared into the low bushes—scrub birch and speckled alder and sumac—that grew along the edge of the forest. I directed my light into the wet mass of leaves, half-expecting to see the beam reflected back by the eye shine of the bear's retinas.
Thompson's description suggested a curious young bear expanding its diet from berries and beechnuts to the other white meat. Probably the animal was miles away by now, having gorged itself on Thompson's beloved pig. Still, I found myself listening for anything to indicate the bear might be nearby. A mosquito whined in my ear. Ahead of me and all around, I heard trees dripping in the darkness. Switching the flashlight from my right hand to my left, I reached down to touch the grip of my sidearm. It was a heavy SIG SAUER P226 .357 Magnum that I had never fired except at a practice range.
I pushed my way into the forest. Beaded rainwater spilled off the leaves onto my shoulders and face. I was drenched in an instant.
After a few steps, I was through the green wall of bushes and saplings at the edge of the wood. Beneath the trees the air was still and heavy with the smell of growing things—as humid as a hothouse. I made an arc with the bull's-eyed flashlight beam along the forest floor, looking for drag marks. But the soft carpet of moss and pine needles had absorbed all traces of the bear's passing, and I saw no more blood drops. I wandered deeper into the woods, searching.
I found the pig a hundred yards in.
It lay on its side in a puddle of congealing blood. Its throat had been torn out, and its haunches had been chewed to a red pulp. The bear had not attempted to bury the carcass or cover it with leaves. It was possible it had heard me coming.
I switched off the flashlight and stood under the dripping trees, listening. I knew retired game wardens and ancient trappers who could hear the rustle a buck made passing through alders across a stream. Men who were so at one with the woods that they didn't fully exist among other human beings but were only truly themselves outdoors. Maybe someday I'd be one of those old woodsmen. But for the moment I was still a twenty-four-year-old rookie, less than a year on the job, and my senses told me nothing about where the bear was.
I turned the flashlight back on. Then I went up to the house to tell poor Bud Thompson what I had found.
By the time I got home it was well past midnight. I'd left the light on outside the screen door and moths were swirling about, butting themselves stupidly against the glass.
As I stepped inside, I was surprised again by my empty house. Sarah had taken most of the furniture with her when she moved out. It always startled me, coming home, to see how little I actually owned. Stacks of books and newspapers, a steel gun cabinet, fallen antlers I had collected in the snow.
Moonlight shined in through the windows, bright enough to see by, so I left the lights off as I moved through the house, shedding my damp shirt and boots as I went. I unbuckled my gun belt and put it away, then wandered into the kitchen. Frosty light spilled out of the refrigerator when I swung the door open. I found a bottle of beer and pressed it against my forehead as I made my way out into the living room.
I cracked open the beer and toasted Bud Thompson and Mike Bowditch—two womenless men dousing our loneliness with alcohol. Except that unlike Thompson, I had chosen to be alone. An empty house was what I'd wanted all along, even if it had taken Sarah years to realize it.
She'd hung in there with me from Colby College, where we'd met, through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and the Advanced Warden Academy and my long weeks of field training. She'd toughed it out, thinking it was a phase I was going through, that eventually I'd go to law school like we'd talked about and become a prosecutor and maybe someday a judge. But it wasn't a phase, and it was only after I had gotten posted in coastal Knox County that she realized that being a game warden was a twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week way of life, and for reasons neither of us fully understood, I'd chosen it over her.
So she left.
And I missed her—and counted the days since she'd gone away. But I was relieved, too. Relieved that I no longer had to justify my emotions to anyone else. I could spend the night alone in the woods searching for a dead pig and be content in a way that made absolutely no sense to anyone who wasn't a game warden. With Sarah gone, I could love this solitary and morbid profession without excuses and not have to look too deeply into the dark of myself.
That was when I noticed a small blinking light across the room.
It hadn't occurred to me to check my answering machine. I'd been gone only an hour and a half, and most everyone I knew had my pager number if they needed to get a hold of me. My first thought was that it had something to do with the bear. Maybe someone else had seen it outside their house, or maybe it had gotten into another pigpen.
When I pushed play there was the raspy sound of breathing on the other end for a while before a man finally spoke: "Mike? Hello? Pick up if you're there." There was a long pause. Then, in the background, came a woman's voice: "Is he there?" The man said: "No, goddamn it! He's not home!" Followed by a disconnect.
I didn't recognize the woman, but the other voice was deep and monotone, just like mine, and hearing it again after two years was enough to start my pulse racing. Why was my father calling after all this time? What could he possibly want from me now?
I stood still in the dark while the tape rewound.CHAPTER 2
My father made his living in the Maine North Woods. In the cold-weather months he cut birches and maples for logging companies, snapped the boughs off fir trees to make Christmas wreaths, and ran a trap line for beaver, muskrat, and mink. In the spring and summer he did some guiding for a hunting and fishing camp up at Rum Pond near the Canadian border. All told, I doubted he earned more than twenty grand a year—not counting whatever he brought in poaching. But it was the life he'd chosen for himself and, ultimately, none of my business.
He'd grown up in the remote logging town of Flagstaff, the son of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and his Quebec-born wife, and from what I heard he was a gifted student and promising athlete. Vietnam changed all that. After boot camp, he joined the Seventy-fifth Ranger Regiment and did two tours in the jungle with a long-range recon patrol unit. Then an NVA grenade sent him home with shrapnel scars across his back and shoulders. In Maine, the Purple Heart qualified him as a hero, but people in Flagstaff said they no longer recognized him as the same sweet and shy Jack Bowditch he'd once been.
After the war he held down jobs at paper mills and trucking companies, never for very long, but long enough to convince my mother he had prospects he never really had. She left him after nine on-and-off years of marriage, moved south with me in tow, and got remarried to a better man than my father could ever be.
What her leaving did to him, I can only guess. For years he'd functioned more or less as part of society, but after my grandparents died and my mom left, his drinking got worse and his impatience with the failings of other human beings hardened into something like contempt. Now he tended to live as far from people as possible, wherever the trees were thick.
The last time I saw him, I got my face smashed in a backwoods bar fight.
It was the summer after Colby. My dad didn't show up for graduation, which was just as well, because I knew there'd be an argument if my stepfather was around, and I didn't want them making a scene. But a few weeks later Sarah and I decided to drive to Rangeley to do some fly-fishing. She'd always wanted to meet my dad, and since he was living at Rum Pond, which was more or less on the way, I couldn't think of a way to squirm out of it. So I gave him a call, and we arranged to get together for beers at a place called the Dead River Inn near Flagstaff.
It turned out to be a northwoodsy sort of tavern—cedar logs, deer heads—attached to an old hotel. It wasn't as seedy as most of my father's watering holes, but it was a Saturday night, there were a dozen motorcycles outside, and the stares that followed Sarah through the door made me think of broken bottles and bloody fists.
My father sat at the end of the bar with a shot of whiskey and a long-necked beer in front of him. He wore a flannel shirt and Carhartt work pants, and his boots were caked with mud. His thickly muscled body—a solid fifty pounds heavier than my own—seemed too big for the stool on which he was balanced. As always, his hair and beard were wild as if they never knew a comb. But every woman I knew seemed to find him dashingly handsome.
"Dad," I said. "This is Sarah Harris."
The way he looked her up and down, it was as if he were trying to breathe her in. Not that I could blame him. Sarah was wearing a sleeveless top and hiking shorts that showed off her tanned legs. Her short blond hair was swept back behind her ears, and her heartshaped face was shining from days in the sun.
"Mike's told me a lot about you," she lied.
"Don't believe a word of it," he said, taking her small hand in his rough paws.
We found a seat at a round oak table in a dark corner of the bar. There was a little oil lamp in the center with a dancing flame that gave all our faces a golden cast. My father ordered us beers and another shot of Jim Beam for himself.
"You want one?" he asked.
He snorted. He didn't think it was much of an excuse.
Sarah glanced back and forth between us with a big smile. "I see where Mike gets his blue eyes."
"I guess the kid turned out OK," he said with a wink. "But he didn't get all his old man's best parts."
"Mike says you work at a sporting lodge," she said.
"I do some guiding over to Rum Pond. I don't suppose you like to fish."
"We're headed over to Rangeley tonight," I said.
"Yeah?" He looked over my head into the crowd.
"We're going to start at the Kennebago and then fish the Magalloway."
"Sounds good," he said absently.
Sarah and I turned around in our seats to see what he was looking at. At the bar a stumpy man with a shaved head and a bushy black goatee was staring at us. He wore a camouflage T-shirt stretched tight across his thick chest. There was a strange smile—almost a smirk—on his face. He raised a glass of beer in our direction.
Excerpted from The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron. Copyright © 2010 Paul Doiron. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Maine..Rural setting,areas that are unknown,but close enough for developers to want in..Mike 24 a Game Warden,college grad, will he remain in this field?His Vietnam Vet father Jack,with many issues of his own.I was drawn in on the first page,and this tightly written mystery,characters that are real,developed but still with many questions of my own .We can all become a part of their lives for a short time,has opened up my own spin on the next in this series of "The Poachers Son"#2.Paul Doiron has showen many the beauty of Maine,but also with secrets and intrigue that are hidden deep in the woods..I look forward to 2011 and beyond ,for this Mike Bowditch series to continue..
As a reader that never reads mysteries I found Paul Doiron's "The Poacher's Son" to be fascinating. The characters were well developed and not all likeable. Some were down-right incorrigible. The plot had plenty of twists and turns, but I was never lost. The setting in the woods of Maine was lovely. But most importantly, the mystery and crime were plausible. Even though our narrator was young and naive, the supporting characters gave credibility to the entire story. A great week-end read!
A great first novel by a very knowledgeable writer, whose roots are deep in the New England soil. The Poachers Son hits you at once, like a nor'easter, and holds you in it's grip till the last pages. Mike Bowditch has become a Maine Game Warden, in spite of, or perhaps, because of his poacher father. When his dad becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a local police officer, Mike offers to help track him down, hoping to protect him and clear his name. This exciting story unfolds across the spectacular panorama of backwoods Maine, which is richly and lovingly described by the author. The characters are full of life and the book seems to cry out for a further installment. If you are looking for a fresh, summer read full of action and mystery in the great outdoors, this is the book for you.
This is a fun, entertaining mystery. The main character, Mike, is a game warder who gets caught in trying to unravel a murder. Could it really be his estranged father who has murdered two men? Mike puts his job in jeopardy while he tries to clear his father's name. Good novel to read when you want to be absorbed by a story without the story line being heavy. With summer coming up, would definitely recommend.
This book has such strong characters that get us emotionally attached. This has enhanced the mystery part of the book. In the discussion of the advanced reading copy people were rooting for, defending, upset with the characters. This book did not end up the way I had predicted. And that is good. I like a book that takes me on that ride of thinking you know what is coming, then the next chapter will change my mind. The Poachers Son also introduced me to Maine, very good descriptions. Thank you for a great book. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
c j box make room for a new series that is likely to keep readers enthralled for years to come! What an exceptional, brilliant debut! I absolutely loved the book and cannot wait for doiron's next story. Not to be missed.
The Poacher's Son is wonderful mystery with a great new character in Game Warden Mike Bowditch. It gives a wonderful perspective of the Maine woods. The mystery is compelling and keeps the reader engaged and interested. Men especially will enjoy the 'manly' aspect of the characters and the action involved in the plot. Since the author has stated that it will be the first in a series, it would make a great Father's Day gift. Dad will enjoy the story and be ready for the next book.
A thrilling, character-driven novel of suspense that will no doubt keep you entertained. Set in the wilderness of Main, a search ensues for a cop killer and the prime suspect is game warden, Mike Bowditch's father and Mike is the only man who believes in his father's innocence. Has his father's brutal past caught up with him? Is he a killer or will Mike be able to prove his father's innocence? Enjoy the excitement learning the truth alongside Mike as he follows a trail of clues in search of a cop killer who just may be his own father. This is a wonderful debut novel and the first of what is certain to be a riveting series starring a soon to be favorite character, Mike Bowditch. "The Poacher's Son" is like a good cup of coffee. A jolt to get your heart started and good to the last drop.
The mystery and description of places and events was great. I would have liked to had a map to see where each place was. It was in Maine and I was able to imagine all the events and places well. I didn't like the language well, but the author needed to do it to make you feel at home in the back woods. Held my attention all the way through. What an ending!
Debut author Paul Doiron has penned a top-notch who-done-it with his first novel The Poacher¿s Son. A myriad of twists and turns will keep the reader guessing as suspicion moves from one character to another until the startling conclusion.Set in the wilderness of Maine the story centers around Mike Bowditch, the local game warden. Mike returns home one night to find a cryptic message on his answering machine from his father, Jack. The next day he finds out that the police are searching for a murderer who killed two people the night before and Jack is their prime suspect. Most of the locals and Mike¿s co-workers also believe Jack is involved in the murders. Jack has been far from the ideal father, neglecting Mike most of his life. In spite of this Mike feels compelled to defend his father and search for the real killer.The book started out a little slow, but it was necessary to develop the various characters and provide the background information on Mike, his family, friends and co-workers. As we learn more about Mike and his relationships with other characters the pace of the story picks up. The writing style is fluid and descriptive; the Maine wilderness vividly comes to life.The author deftly shifts suspicion from one character to another to keep the reader off balance. I¿ve read a fair share of mystery novels and usually half way through the story I have a pretty good idea which one of the characters is guilty. That was not true with The Poacher¿s Son. I did not see that ending coming and for me those are the best kind of endings.This was not a typical mystery novel. It was also a coming of age story about a young man and his relationships with key people in his life. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. This is book one in a series of three books about Mike Bowditch, Game Warden.
This is a review of the 7-CD audio book version of "The Poacher's Son," as read by John Bedford Lloyd. Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is not in a happy place. He believes that his girlfriend of four years left him because he refuses to resign his game warden position. Now that she is gone, all Mike has left are the solitary hours he spends watching for poachers and helping injured animals in his section of the Maine woods. Mike made his choice and is willing to live with it. Things are bad now - but they will get much worse when he discovers a phone message from his hard drinking poacher father, the man who deserted Mike and his mother when Mike was just a boy. A phone call to his son is so out of character for Jack Bowditch that his son senses that something is terribly wrong. But even knowing what a disaster his father's life had turned into, Mike Bowditch cannot imagine that he will soon be the only thing standing between his father and the lawmen who accuse him of assassinating a policeman and a paper company executive. Mike refuses to believe that his father is capable of murder and his biggest fear is that, before he can safely surrender, his father will be gunned down by the lawmen searching Maine and southern Canada for him. "The Poacher's Son" explores the strengths and weaknesses of the father-son relationship, a bond that is often strong enough to blind a son to his father's weaknesses and worse. Mike Bowditch convinces himself that, despite everything he knows about his father's despicable behavior and his drinking problems, the man would never do what he is accused of having done. He so much wants to bring his father safely into custody that he is willing to put his own job on the line by interfering in the manhunt despite direct orders from his lieutenant to stay clear of the whole thing. But is his father as innocent as Mike believes him to be? Or, as the authorities believe, is he a killer willing to use his son to cover his tracks until he can escape his pursuers? The isolated woods of Maine make an excellent setting for Paul Doiron's story and he gives the reader a good feel for what life in that part of the country must be like. As Doiron describes it, the locale is a mixture of awesome beauty and isolation, a place the locals fear will be spoiled by the outsiders seeking to exploit its resources for their own purposes. Those woods provide Jack Bowditch with the cover he needs to stay on the run and the isolation they create makes possible many of the twists in Doiron's plot. Mike Bowditch is a young man, a likeable enough hero who knows his way around the Maine wilderness but is still a little too naïve and inexperienced for his own good. His temper, combined with his inability to control his mouth when he is angry, sees him consistently making things rougher for himself than they have to be. Some of the book's other characters tend to err on the stereotypical side of the scale, however. This is the case with Truman (the drunken Indian), the retired game warden (and his devoted wife) who takes Mike under his wing when every other lawman within 500 miles would prefer to chew his head off, and B.J., the brash young woman/slut who grew up in an isolated fishing camp known as Rum Pond. Perhaps these characters seem stereotypical because of the stoic way that John Bedford Lloyd reads the author's characterizations. For most of the book, Lloyd uses the same steady monotone to present the book, only occasionally changing his voice or inflection to add a little life to one of the characters. Unfortunately, it is only toward the end of the book that Lloyd seems to gain any enthusiasm about the story he is telling, when he does a nice job on the book's climax. Despite my misgivings about "The Poacher's Son," Paul Doiron has made me curious enough to wonder how the Mike Bowditch character will evolve over time. I will very likely look at the next book in the series to see how he's doing. Rated at: 3.0
the mystery was quite stupid but the story was ok. the reader was good
Game Warden Mike Bowditch investigates a double homicide featuring his father as the prime suspect. This gets Mike into all kinds of sticky situations with his job and his personal life, as well as placing Mike's life in mortal danger. Along the way, Mike grabbles with unresolved father-son issues-- his father being legendarily outlaw that frequently favored drinking and women over Mike himself-- a theme that repeats itself throughout the novel. Paul Doiron writes an entertaining adventure novel about the Maine wilderness. His style is straightforward, reflecting a respect for nature that I admire. He also explores the childlike desire that haunts us as adults to continue to seek parental validation througout our lifetime. I look forward to the next Doiron novel.
The Poacher's Son, is to be the first book in the Mike Bowditch series. Mike is a Game Warden in northern Maine. He has recently split up with his girlfriend, almost fiance, about 2 months earlier. Then one night after 2 years of silence from his father he gets a short phone call left on the answering machine and the next day he finds out there was a double murder and his father is the prime suspect. Being in law enforcement he tries to help with the search and investigation and being the son of the 'cop killer' no body really wants him around. Most of the book consists of Mike remembering different scenes in his life where he and his father intersected and all the dumb decisions Mike makes after he learns about the murders. Most of the time I didn't understand why he made the choices he did and I think they were poorly explained before or after he made them.Over all it was a fairly decent mystery and I wasn't disappointed that I read it but it didn't really start getting good until the last third in my opinion.
The Poacher's Son places you in the backwoods and small towns of Maine. The story revolves around a game warden and his desire to help his father who is on the run after being accused of killing two people. The story is written in a simple style that maintains your interest to read. However, this is no "barn burner", there is no strong desire nor compulsion to read this book. The story and action is okay, the ending is a tad disappointing. Almost as if the authors was saying "I have written enough words, now lets finish it up". The epilogue is sorely lacking that helps the reader (and main character) is resolving all the issues that were developed in the story. While disappointing, I will certainly give a new story about the life of Mike Bowdich in the future, to learn more about life in the backwoods of Maine.
You can smell the pine forest, feel the dampness, see the hidden cabins, hear the pond waters lapping, and feel for young Mike Bowditch as he struggles with family loyalty, right and wrong. Paul Doiron has created a setting, the Maine woods, that serves as its own character among the motley group of characters that propel the story. Mike has been estranged from his abusive and alcoholic father for years and has retreated to a lonely life of Game Warden in the Maine woods. When is father is on the run, accused of murder, Mike deserts his job to find his father before the police or the real killers do. But who really committed the murders? The unstable camp owner, the town crazy drunk, the girlfriend, another cop, or his father? The story moves quickly and the reader's sympathy jumps around among the characters until the very end. A good suspenseful novel and this reader hopes that Game Warden Mike returns in future Maine woods tales.
This debut novel by Paul Doiron bodes well for the future of Maine-based crime/suspense fiction. Editor of DOWN EAST: THE MAGAZINE OF MAINE and a registered Maine guide, Doiron writes with authority of the people and locales in the North Maine Woods.Mike Bowditch had a troubled upbringing, his drunken violent father poaching drinking and fighting throughout his early childhood. Everyone new the notorious Jack Bowditch. After his mother took him away and divorced his father, Mike grew up wanting to love the man but never finding how. To the surprise of many, Mike became a member of the Maine Warden's Service, partly to atone for his father's lifelong flouting of the law, and resigned himself to estrangement from his father.So it came as a shock when Jack called Mike for his help. A double murder had occurred, one victim being a deputy sheriff, and Jack was on the run, chief suspect. He wanted Mike's help. So Mike faces the dilemma of staying true to he law enforcement career on the one hand, and trying to help his father, who he believes is innocent.There is enough excitement and suspense in this book to keep the pages turning as Mike tries to help clear his father, all the while risking the relationships he has worked hard to build. He is faced with difficult choices, where no direction seems the right one, and the consequences of any are bad. The ending is stark, yet satisfying, and the writing is superb. Look for this one.
Paul Doiron's new book, The Poacher's Son, was a roller coaster read for me. The read started out slow with few tight turns or exciting twists, but somewhere in the middle the read picked up some steam, started to add some excitement, believability to the characters. I especially liked how the author put me in the Maine woods, transported me. As with roller coasters the excitement is in the eye of the rider. You'll need to give this book more than a chapter or two before you decide to jump ship or not. Consider strapping yourself in for the entire read.
Mike Bowditch chose a life as a game warden in Maine, probably to spite his absent father, a hard drinking woodsman who cares little for the law and less for the family he once had. Mike had tried to make peace as he settled down to start his own family, only to be rewarded with the losing end of a bar brawl. Now his father was wanted for the murder of two men, one a cop who Mike went to school with, and his father reached out for his help. Mike¿s personal life is already in shambles over his choice of career as a low paid game warden. Will he throw away what¿s left of his life to help his father escape or prove his innocence? Paul Doiron constructs a believable story with unexpected twists and an unexpected ending. I suspect we¿ll see more of Mike in the future, although I¿m not sure where he is headed. Doiron treads close to the stories of C.J. Box and his game warden hero, but he manages to tell an original, satisfying story. I¿m ready for whatever comes next.
Jack loves being in the woods, drinkiing and women. After Mike's mother leaves Jack and remarries Mike is intigued by his father. After spending the summer with his father at age 16, Mike becames a game warden. Shortly after, Mike receives a strange phone call from his father and two people are dead. I found the book easy to read and enjoyed the short chapters. There are lots of nature talk about hunting and animals.
This book wasn't bad to read, nor was it exceptionally good. It did pull me in and want to keep reading it, but mostly because it was a mystery, and it was fairly well paced. The lead character is Mike, a game warden in a remote area of Maine. His father is accused of a double homicide and vanishes, and Mike is immediately stuck between his law enforcement role and the need to help his father. While we learn a good bit about Mike's past, we don't learn enough about Mike himself. The situation with his father causes understandable stress, but we're left to infer that from Mike's on the job behavior, not his thoughts, and since we don't know what his on the job behavior is like normally, its hard to make a real connection. It seems like in several places the author had a clear idea of what was going on, but he does not convey that well. The ending may be satisfying to some mystery fans, but I found it a bit disappointing. It made sense, but it was still lacking.
Very enjoyable first-effort from this author. Set in the woods of Maine, this murder mystery kept me turning the pages. The pre-release edition had a few typos, but I assume they will be corrected in the final edition. Over-all, I think this author has a bright future, and I look forward to reading more from him.
Few things get my pulse going more than a debut mystery series. So I looked forward to reading Paul Doiron's "The Poacher's Son" especially after scanning the kudos on the back of the ARC submitted by other writers.The story revolves around 20-something Mike Bowditch, a game warden for the state of Maine. Recently dumped by his girlfriend, Sarah, and struggling with residual pain from his fractured childhood, Mike has thrown himself into the job he loves. But a midnight call from his estranged father, a dark yet charismatic figure, throws him into the middle of a murder mystery.On the whole, Doiron gets a B+ for plotting but a C- for characterizations. Aside from a couple of slow passages, the book moves along nicely and the denouement will catch many readers unaware.But we never get a true sense of what drives Mike even with detailed descriptions of his upbringing and thought process. Frankly, I found Sarah to be little more than a good-looking whiner - Doiron does a better job of detailing her flaws versus her good points. He seems to have better success with older characters like the sharp and witty Charley Stevens, a retired game warden. Mike's father, the mercurial Jack Bowditch, is fleshed out more than his protagonist son.I agree with Julia Spencer-Fleming who notes that "Fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr will relish..." this debut. What I hope is that Doiron's second attempt features a deeper look into the mind of young Mike.
The Poacher's Son is a good book. The story and writing made me want to continue reading it. It didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, but it's a solid contribution to the mystery genre. And since it appears that it might be a series, I'd certainly read the next installment.Mike Bowditch is a 24 year old forest warden. His parents divorced when he was nine and he lived with his mother. His father lived in the woods of Maine, making a living however he could.A paper company owned much of the forested land where Mike's father lived and worked. As an accommodation to the town it let residents lease certain land to build homes and resorts. A new com;pany has just bought the land and ultimately the residents will be evicted. After a heated town meeting, a policeman and a company representative are murdered as they are driving a back road away from the meeting. Mike's father is the prime suspect. As he is being driven to jail, he overpowers his driver and escapes, adding to the aura of guilt.The Poacher's Son is nicely written. It's got some good characters in Mike, Kathy (his boss), Sarah (his estranged wife) and Charley (a retired warden and pilot). The story moves along well. There is less action (but there is some) and more description in this novel. It's a fast read--3 days. So go for it.