Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
Set in rural Maine, this was a natural choice for my next trip through the mystery United States.  My parents and aunts and uncles are all from Maine and I grew up with most childhood trips and holidays spent there.  This story takes place in the rural northwest part of the state near the Canadian border that I knew nothing about.  The story is about game warden Mike Bowditch who is drawn into a murder that supposedly his father Jack, a local game poacher has committed.  Mike puts his career on the line to defend his father and often runs a foul of the law himself in trying to figure out who actually committed the murder of a local cop and another local man. Mike has grown up around a deep woods subculture of people who hunt not only for sport but to survive.  You find out that being a game warden is a tough job.  The position is basically a woods police force.  Bowditch is checking licenses and making sure drunks don't travel the waterways just to name a few mundane jobs.  In one scenario he had to kill a bear that had wandered into a home and the owner maimed trying to defend himself.  It's a gritty hard tack life for many of these people, but most would not change it.  An interesting side note is that there were Nazi prisoner camps in these deep woods during WWII.  At Seboomook, Maine a camp was developed for about 250 prisoners from Rommel's Afrika Korps.  Prisoners were put to work cutting trees and literally feeding in to the Maine paper industry.  This was a small back ground story to this book but as a first novel from Doiron, this fit nicely into my attempt to make a sense of place as important as the mystery itself.  You find yourself really seeing and understanding what this area of the state looks and feels like with this adjunct story.  This is a fast paced novel and Doiron kept you guessing with a variety of red herrings.  He develops his characters carefully and everyone has his/her purpose.  You follow Bowditch as he continues to try to find evidence of his dad's innocence even as you found out he's a hard life man with a problem with alcohol and women..  But largely Mike is the only person who thinks Dad didn't do the crime.  The conclusion is explosive and I won't spoil it for you.  I will admit I didn't see it coming but it's good and ties the plots nicely. . I highly recommend this great book and I look forward to reading his next book.  If you are a fan of authors like Craig Johnson, Joseph Heywood, or Nevada Barr and you like a character with guts and compassion and a love of the wilderness, this is your newest author.