Trespasser (Mike Bowditch Series #2)

Trespasser (Mike Bowditch Series #2)

by Paul Doiron

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250001597
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/10/2012
Series: Mike Bowditch Series , #2
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 51,579
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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 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.

Read an Excerpt

TRESPASSER

Paul Doiron

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

1

I found the wreck easily enough. It was the only red sedan with a crushed hood on the Parker Point Road. In my headlights, the damage didn't look too extensive. The driver had even managed to steer the car onto the muddy shoulder, where it had become mired to its hubcaps.

I switched on my blue lights and got out of the patrol truck. My shadow lurched ahead of me like a movie monster. Right off, I saw the dark red pool of blood in the road—there must have been quarts of it, every ounce in the animal's body spilled onto the asphalt. I also noticed bloody drag marks where someone had moved the roadkill. But the deer itself was nowhere to be seen. The red smears just stopped, as if the carcass had been snatched up by space aliens into the night.

Flashlight raised high in my left hand, I approached the wrecked car. The air bags had inflated, but the windshield was intact. So where was the driver? Someone had phoned in the deer/car collision. The keys were still in the ignition. Had the driver wandered off with a concussion— or just gotten tired of waiting for a delinquent game warden to arrive? It was damned mysterious.

No driver, no deer.

I was all alone on the foggy road.

The call had come in an hour earlier, near the end of a twelve-hour shift.

My last stop of the day was supposed to be the house of a very tall and angry man named Hank Varnum. He was waiting for me in the foggy nimbus of his porch light: a rangy, rawboned guy with a face that always reminded me of Abraham Lincoln when I saw him behind the counter of the Sennebec Market.

Tonight he didn't give me a chance to climb out of my truck. He just let out a snarl: "Look what those bastards did, Mike!" And he started off into the wet woods behind his house.

I grabbed my Maglite and followed as best I could. When you are a young Maine game warden—twenty-five years old and fit—there aren't many occasions when you can truly imagine being old, but this late March evening was one of them. My knees ached from a fall I'd taken earlier that day checking ice-fishing licenses on a frozen pond, and the mud sucked at my boots with every step. Varnum had to keep waiting for me to catch up. The grocer walked like a turkey—long-legged, neck slightly extended, head bobbing as he went. But I was too exhausted to find it humorous.

Hank Varnum owned something like seventy acres of woods along the Segocket River in midcoast Maine, and he seemed determined to lead me over every hill and dale of it. Worse yet, I discovered that my flashlight needed new batteries. The temperature had been hovering around thirty-two degrees all afternoon, and now the thaw was conjuring up a mist from the forest floor. Fog rose from the softening patches of snow and drifted like gossamer through the trees.

After many minutes, we came out of a thicket and intersected a recently used all-terrain-vehicle trail. The big wheels of the ATVs had chewed savagely into the earth, splashing mud into the treetops and scattering fist-sized rocks everywhere. The ruts were filled with coffee-colored puddles deep enough to drown a small child.

Varnum thrust his forefinger at the damage. "Do you believe this shit?"

But before I could answer, he'd forged off again, turkeylike, following the four-wheel trail deeper into the woods.

I checked my watch. What ever chance I'd had of catching a movie with my girlfriend, Sarah, was no more. Since she'd moved back into my rented house last fall, we'd been making progress reconciling our lifestyles—Maine game warden and grade-school teacher— or so it seemed to me anyway. Tonight might be a setback.

My cell phone vibrated. The display showed the number of the Knox County Regional Communications Center.

"Hold up, Hank!" I answered. "Twenty-seven fifty-four. This is Bowditch."

"Twenty-seven fifty-four, we've got a deer/car collision on the Parker Point Road." Most of my calls were dispatched out of the state police headquarters in Augusta, but I recognized the voice on the radio as being that of Lori Williams, one of the county 911 operators. "Anyone injured?"

"Negative."

"What about the deer?"

"The caller said it was dead."

So why was Lori bothering me with this? Every police officer in Maine was trained to handle a deer/car collision. Nothing about the situation required the district game warden.

"Dispatch, I'm ten-twenty on the Quarry Road in Sennebec. Is there a deputy or trooper who can respond?"

"Ten-twenty three." Meaning: Stand by.

I waited half a minute while the dispatcher made her inquiries among the available units. Hank Varnum had his flashlight beam pointed into my eyes the whole time. "Are we just about there, Hank?" I asked, squinting.

"It's right around this bend."

"Show me."

We went on another four hundred yards or so, crossing a little trout stream that the ATVs had transformed into a flowing latrine. Then we turned a corner, and I understood the wellspring of Hank Varnum's rage. At one time, the trail had run between two majestic oaks— but no longer.

"They cut down my goddamned trees!" The beam of Varnum's flashlight was shaking, he was so mad.

The stumps stood like fresh-sawn pillars on either side of the trail, with the fallen trees lying, akimbo, to the sides. Yellow Posted signs were still nailed to their toppled trunks.

"First, I put up the signs," Varnum explained. "But they came through anyway. Then I dropped a couple of spruces across the trail. They just dragged those aside. So I said, 'All right, this is war.' And I strung a steel cable between the two oaks. You see how much good that did." In fact, the cable was still attached to one of the fallen trees.

I shined my light on the crosshatched tire tracks, feeling a surge of anger at the meaningless waste in front of me. They were beautiful red oaks, more than a century old, and some assholes had snuffed out their lives for no good reason. "Do you have any idea who the vandals are?"

"That pervert Calvin Barter, probably. Or maybe Dave Drisko and that prick son of his. There's a whole pack of them that ride around town on those fucking machines. I swear to God, Mike, I'm going to string up barbed wire here next."

Mad as I was, it was my job to be the voice of reason in these situations. "You can't booby/trap your land, Hank. No matter how much you might be tempted. You'll get sued. And you honestly don't want someone to get injured."

"I don't?" He rubbed the back of his long neck, like he was trying to take the skin off. "I never had any problem when it was just snowmobiles. It was always fine by me if the sledders used my land. They never did any real damage. But these ATVs are a different story. They want to tear things up. That's part of their fun." His eyes bored into mine. "So what can you do for me here, Mike?"

"Well, I could take some pictures of the tracks and the trees, but there's nothing to connect the ATVs with whoever cut down your oaks. If you could ID the riders coming through next time, we could file trespassing charges. Snapshots would help make the case."

"So that's it?"

I was about to say something about how I couldn't be everywhere at once, how I relied on citizens to help me do my job, blah, blah, blah, when I heard the roar of distant engines.

"That's them!" Varnum said.

I motioned him to get off the trail. We extinguished our fl ash-lights and crouched down behind some young balsams and waited. My cell phone vibrated again. Lori told me that a state trooper said he was going to respond to the deer/car collision, so I was off the hook. I turned the mobile off to be as silent as possible. The snow around me had crystallized as it had melted and become granular. It made a crunching noise when I shifted my weight.

The engines got louder and louder, I saw a flash of headlights through the fog, and then, just as I was getting ready to spring, the shouts and revving motors began to recede.

Varnum jumped to his feet. "They turned off down that fire road!"

My knees cracked as I straightened up beside him. "Will they come back this way?"

"How the hell do I know?"

In a few weeks, the spring peepers would begin to call, but right now the forest was quiet except for the dripping trees. "Look, Hank, I know you're angry. But I promise you, we'll do what we can to catch the punks who did this."

He didn't even answer, just snapped on his flashlight and stormed off toward home.

I took two steps after him, and then the ground slid out from under me, and the next thing I knew I was lying face-first in the mud. When I finally dug the mud out of my eye sockets, I saw Varnum looming over me, his jaw stuck out, his anger unabated. He pulled a handkerchief from his pants pocket and threw it at me. "Wipe the dirt off your face."

It wasn't until I'd left Varnum at his door and gotten back to my truck that I remembered I'd turned my cell phone off. Dispatch was trying to reach me on the police radio: "Twenty-one fifty-four, please respond."

"Twenty-one fifty-four," I said.

"Do you need assistance?" Lori sounded uncharacteristically animated. She was a good dispatcher in that she usually kept her emotions in check. That's an important skill when you deal with freaked-out callers all night.

"No, I'm fine."

"We couldn't reach you."

"Sorry, I had my phone off. What's going on?"

"Four-twelve had engine trouble. He couldn't take that deer/car."

"You mean no one's responded yet?" I already knew where this conversation was heading. "Can't a deputy take it?"

"Skip's dealing with an eighteen-wheeler that went off the road in Union, and Jason's bringing in a drunk driver."

It had been at least thirty minutes since the call came through. I was mud-soaked and exhausted, with an impatient girlfriend waiting at home. And now I had to go scrape a deer carcass off the road and take down insurance information. "All right, I'm on my way."

Parker Point was a narrow peninsula that jutted like a broken finger southward into the Atlantic. It was one of dozens of similar capes and necks carved out of the Maine bedrock by the glaciers during the last ice age. Ten thousand years might seem like an eternity, but in geological terms it was scarcely time enough to cover these ridges with a dusting of topsoil and a blanket of evergreen needles. Nothing with deep roots could thrive on Parker Point, just alders, beach roses, and bristling black spruces that blew over easily when the March winds came storming out of the northeast.

The houses on the point had once belonged to fishing families, but as waterfront real estate prices soared and the codfish stocks collapsed in the Gulf of Maine, these homes had been increasingly sold as summer "cottages" to wealthy out-of-staters. Or they had been torn down and replaced with new shingle-sided mansions with radiant-heat floors and gated fences. I could easily envision a time, very soon, when every Maine fishermen who still clawed a living from the sea could no longer afford to dwell within sight of it.

Because of all those no Trespassing signs, the local deer population had exploded. Without hunters to control their numbers, the animals multiplied like leggy rabbits, but their lives were no easier, and they died just as brutally. The difference was that death tended to come now in the form of starvation, disease, or, as in this case, a speeding car.

The fog had gotten so thick, it bounced my headlights back at me. As I drove, I keyed in my home number on my cell phone and readied myself. But when I told Sarah I'd be late, her reaction was not what I'd expected.

"That's all right, Mike," she said in a muted voice.

"It's just that a car hit a deer in this fog," I said.

"Was anyone hurt?"

"Just the deer. Maybe we can see that movie tomorrow night."

"Amy said it wasn't a good film anyway."

Neither of us spoke for a while. Something was definitely bothering her.

"I'm sorry I missed dinner," I offered.

"It was just pea soup. You can heat it up."

I tried lightening the mood. "Why do they compare fog with pea soup anyway? It's not like it's green."

But she wouldn't play along. "I'll see you when you get home, all right?"

"I love you."

"Please be careful," she replied. It was the way she ended many of our calls.

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Trespasser (Mike Bowditch Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
The_Book_Goddess More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to win this book in a giveaway from the publisher! I haven't read the Poacher's Son, which is Doiron's 1st book, but I think I am going to have to read it soon! Even though I didn't read the 1st book, this story stood well on it's own. I loved the tone the author set and found myself completely immersed in this Maine small town. I really enjoyed Mike Bowditch and found him to be an extremely smart, multi-layered and strong lead character. All of the characters were well developed and became like living and breathing people to me. The story unfolded in a very natural progression and I found myself rapidly flipping the pages at the end to see how this story was going to end. I have to say, this is the first mystery in a VERY long time where I didn't have the end figured out and that is saying something. I thoroughly enjoyed this author's writing style and can't wait to read more of his future books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally disturbing story...a really page turner...has you wondering about the characters LONG after the book is done. Can't wait for the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a very good plot but I was a bit put off by the seemingly irrational decisions the main character frequently took. He seemingly was an intelligent, experienced warden yet in this murder investigation he continuously did stupid things. All in all it kind of ruined the story for me.
Shelly11RS More than 1 year ago
I received an advanced copy of Trespasser through a Goodreads Giveaway. This was an excellent read with rich characters and a riveting plot. It can be a standalone novel so if you haven't read the Poacher's Son, you can still jump right in! I am going back and reading the Poacher's Son though because I enjoyed Trespasser so much. Doiron is definitely going on my must-read list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of his books are amazing
dhaupt on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden, is not what you¿d call an exemplary employee, he¿s earned a reputation as a hot headed rule breaker during his last case involving his father and unfortunately it¿s still following him, the one good thing to come out of all of this is his rekindled relationship with his girlfriend Sarah who has decided to move back into the home they once shared. Mike gets called to a deer/car accident where the woman driver is mysteriously missing and amidst all his other cases and along with his mentor Charley he gets pulled deeper and deeper into this one when it seems that the other agencies involved brush it aside. When the woman is found murdered there are many similarities to a murder case from years ago a case where a local man is still imprisoned for the crime. Mike is unaware of the danger he is putting himself in by nosing around in this case, but he will soon find out, if he survives.I first met Mr. Doiron during the discussion of his first novel about Mike Bowditch with First Look group at B&N.com book clubs and was very impressed not only with his characters but his exquisite descriptions of the Maine wilderness and wildlife, he made the novel very real for me with his words. This novel is no less descriptive and captivating as from the very first page he has me wondering where the path is leading to and who will live and who will die in his second thriller. The plot pulls you right in with the mysterious disappearance and he keeps us enthralled with the twists and turns not just of this story line but the others that he introduces us too as well. The narrative is a study in Maine wildlife habitat and lifestyle between the haves the have nots and the in betweens filled with dialogue that matches each to perfection. The characters are all excellent and we learn more about our protagonist and what makes him tick as we watch him slowly and at times painfully climb to his potential. Mr. Doiron¿s other characters are a study of human nature and sociology, we also in this novel get to know the enigmatic Sarah who we only met peripherally last time.If you like investigations that take on a somewhat environmental view of mystery and thrillers you will like this. If you like being on the front lines when a new series is started, here is only number two. If you love a great mystery, a drama and a protagonist who¿s not perfect give this series a try.This reads well as a stand a lone, but my suggestion is to read The Poacher¿s Son when you¿re through with this and find out all about Mike from the beginning.Mr. Doiron I am now anxiously waiting for number three.
slarsoncollins on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I got this one as part of a goodreads giveaway. I'm glad I did. Solid characters (I think I liked the various bad guys more than the protagonist :) ), great plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and fantastic climax. Wonderful read that I'd recommend to anyone who likes mysteries/thrillers.
ethel55 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A Maine Game Warden for less than two years, Mike Bowditch seems determined to stick his fingers into every catastrophic event that happens near his little corner of the world. Still famous for the events that concluded with his father's death, Mike seems wary when a car/deer collision results in no deer or driver. The mystery brings up a murder case from seven years previous, one in which many believe the wrong man was imprisoned. I liked the return of pilot Charley, his time with Mike seems comforting and I think Mike needs that type of mentor in his life. This was a fairly riveting read for me and I felt like things were being revealed slowly to me, as they were for Mike.
susiesharp on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Another hit for Paul Doiron! Game Warden Mike Bowditch still reeling from the events in The Poacher¿s Son (If you haven¿t read it what are you waiting for?) and once again steps into an investigation he should be staying out of, the murder of a young woman which has similarities to a decade old case for which someone is already serving time for. Is the right man in prison? Is this a copycat? And why does Mike seem to find trouble everywhere he goes??!!??I so enjoy Paul¿s writing he kept me guessing all the way through this one, I didn¿t know who did it until the reveal! It was so great to be back in touch with the characters from the Poacher¿s Son including Charley & Ora. This is going to be a series I will stick with till the end because Mike Bowditch has a lot of work to do on himself, his relationship with Sarah and to try to stop getting in trouble with his superior officers so he keeps his job, but that¿s what makes this a great series, the characters are flawed and human ,he has so much growing to do it will be great to see his progress!I highly recommend starting with the Poacher¿s Son before you read this one just for the character background you will be hooked on this series just as I am!Full Disclosure: I received this from the GoodReads Giveaway Program5 Stars
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I like characters who have a gift for making the wrong decision. Whether it's the guy who always picks trouble or the woman who just grabbed an opportunity and is digging in deeper and deeper to make it work, I find it all fascinating. Usually, the person making the wrong life choices is the bad guy, but here that guy is Mike Bowditch and he's a game warden in Maine, the guy trying to solve the crime and rescue the girl. Bowditch is hard work. He's insensitive and deliberately rude, self-righteous and a terrible boyfriend. He's got a chip on his shoulder that he refuses to deal with and he's prone to tunnel vision. He's dealing with some destructive off-roaders when he's called to haul a dead deer off the highway. When he arrives, the car that hit the animal is there, but both deer and woman are gone. A state trooper shows up and takes charge of the scene, sending Bowditch home. Bowditch leaves, but something about the situation bothers him and he finds himself going back to the scene and trying to find out what happened long after he's been told to leave it to the officers assigned to the case. He's also increasingly bothered by the scofflaw off-roaders and his attempts to deal with them grow more extreme.This was a good, quick read where the plot made sense and the author created a vivid setting in coastal Maine during March, the "mud season". Bowditch is a wonderfully conceived character. I'd never want to know him personally, but he's great fun to follow through a book as he alienates everyone around him. I did want to yell at him a few times - self-righteousness is never a good trait and being inside his head could be aggravating. That said, the supporting characters were a bit thin, from his mentor who likes to call him "young feller" to the people Bowditch dealt with as part of his job - the hardscrabble locals were rendered as caricatures in a political ad, there was not much more than an outline to any of them.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing 3 days ago
In this second installment of the (mis)adventures of Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch, Paul Doiron has given us a protagonist who is still recovering from the events in the first book of the series, The Poacher's Son. While this one could stand alone, I think readers will not grasp the full extent of Mike's inner turmoil, and the demons he is still wrestling with unless they've read the first one.The book opens when Mike is called by a demanding and irate citizen who cannot understand why the warden must follow certain procedures before just barging off to "arrest those dirt-bags."  At the same time, he is called to the scene of a car-deer encounter on a dark, foggy road (an not uncommon occurence in Maine), only to discover that the deer (presumably dead) is gone, and the driver of the vehicle is missing. When an obnoxious state trooper finally appears on the scene (he should have been the one to handle the case to begin with) and dismisses the missing driver with a remark that she was probably trying to avoid an OUI, Mike is outraged but too tired and muddy to stick around and challenge the other officer.Once at home, the niggling clues that don't fit the trooper's assessment begin to bother him, and his rebellious and hard-headed nature once again kicks in.  What happened to the girl?  Is she OK?  When he tries to find out, he meets roadblocks at every corner, while his inner radar continues to pick up vibes that something is definitely wrong.  When the girl is found dead, the town and local cops are spooked by the resemblance to another murder seven years ago.  From there on, we watch as Mike becomes a self-destructive one man posse bent on proving everyone else wrong.Girlfriend Sarah has returned, but doesn't appear inclined to make their relationship more permanent until Mike agrees to counseling.  Mike's boss Kathy has only a cameo appearance in this one, as do his old friends the retired game warden Charley and his wife Ora.  Once again, the book is replete with lush descriptions of Maine's natural settings, its wildlife, and its citizens; it shows us again the very intense and necessary role the Game Wardens play in law enforcement in Maine. There are bodies, bad guys, suspects, and bosses galore.  Doiron shows us the close relation between the local sheriffs, police departments, the state police and the game wardens.  His portrait of Maine continues to enlighten and delight, and his mystery plotting is spot-on.I do hope that Mike and Sarah can get their relationship back onto a positive track and begin moving forward.  Mike is young (he's only been a warden for two years) and he has a lot to learn in the life department, but readers have become invested in getting this young man to adulthood, and look forward to the next novel in the series.
sleahey on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A sequel to the Poacher's Son, and the main character's anger once again puts him in self-destructive situations, which ultimately help him solve some crimes but decimate his relationships. There seems to be a new edge of cynicism regarding Maine's rural poor in this novel. This was especially evident in the audiobook version, in which the negative characters were portrayed with a (terrible!) Maine accent, while others spoke normally. I gave up after the first disk, and found the book much more palatable.
nbmars on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I was excited to see that Paul Doiron had written a second book featuring his Maine game warden Mike Bowditch. His first book, The Poacher¿s Son received numerous award nominations in 2010, including the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, the Thriller Award, and the Maine Literary Award. I was disappointed with this new one, however. Bowditch, age 25, is called to the scene when a young woman hits a deer and crashes her car on a foggy road. When he arrives, both the deer and the woman are missing. A state trooper finally comes and says he will take over processing the scene; Bowditch leaves reluctantly, convinced there has been some foul play. Later, he finds the woman's body; she has been raped, brutalized, and asphyxiated in a way remarkably similar to a crime committed seven years earlier. Homicide having been established, the state police get jurisdiction, and Bowditch is told to stay away from the investigation. But of course he can¿t, and once again, he jeopardizes his relationship with his girlfriend and his colleagues by obsessing over solving the crime and by taking matters into his own hands.Discussion: I like featuring a game warden as the investigator in a crime novel. In Maine, game wardens have all the law enforcement powers and responsibilities as do state police troopers. In addition, however, they have the more unusual duties common to game wardens, such as going after game poachers, policing ATV and snowmobile use, and rescuing hikers. This adds a built-in source of interesting side issues to provide relief from the tension of the main plot line. In the first book, the author focused more on the landscape and wildlife; in this one, the problem is good-old-boy ATV¿ers, which made ¿ for me - a much less appealing side story. Plus, there are numerous references to the plot of the first book, but no full explanations. If I had not read it, I would have felt very frustrated. My final objection is that, in spite of all the plot twists and turns, the ¿whodunnit¿ was pretty darn obvious. Evaluation: I like the concept behind this book, and am hoping that the third in the series will return to the clarity and emphasis on nature that made the first book such a standout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The second book in the series does not disappoint!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
However, writer seemed to lose focus toward end of book with an important scene which detracted from the reality of the story. In general, an interesting book with a nice twist.
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RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Maine Game Warden, Mike Bowditch is just recovering from dealing with his notorious father in THE POACHER'S SON.  His girlfriend has decided to give him a second chance to spend more time at home, and to be "safe" in his job. Now negatively labeled as "the poacher's son", he is trying to live down this reputation, but this is difficult as he is once again fighting the current within his area.  Mike was called to the scene of an accident between a driver and a deer, but for some strange reason the girl has left the scene.  But did she really leave on her own, as she has been found brutally murdered in one of the Maine coast's "summer cabins"---huge summer homes for the vacationing rich. Her married lover is found in a four wheeler with his throat slit.  The authorities want to call this a murder/suicide, but Mike finds the girl's murder eerily like another murder that happened a number of years ago.  But since that murder was "solved" , with the perpetrated behind bars, things just don't add up, and Mike just can't leave well enough alone.  Mike is caught between those calling the convicted man innocent, and those who just want to close both cases, and they are not "playing nice".  Mike's girlfriend just wants him to consider his safety while investigating a crime that is NOT within the Game Warden's job description.  This book is definitely a thriller, but the play on atmosphere and the definite "Maine dialogue", adds a whole new dimension to the enjoyment of this book.  Once again, Paul Doiron has created a book of action so definitely within Maine, that the reader is transported to the seaside with the characters---multiplying the suspense for the reader twofold.  Definitely this series will continue to be on my reading list, going right on to the nest book--BAD LITTLE FALLS. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great ride !!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a very good book and I think a lot of people will like it too!!!!! Ok ,Paul where is the next one? Anything to do with Mike and Charlie's New house guest?
Westy47 More than 1 year ago
Every 2 weeks I go to the libarary and challenge myself to try a new author. Jackpot! Can't wait for future books by this author. I jumped into this before reading the 1st book but no worries. This story stands up just as it is although no doubt it is even better if you've read the first book. Congrats to the author and looking forward to more from Paul.