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MASSACRE POND by Paul Doiron: Book Review

It’s a fearful scene that Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch is called to by his friend Billy Cronk.  “Wicked bad,” is Billy’s description of what he’s taking Mike to see, and that’s an understatement.

The first site Billy takes Mike to is where a young male moose has been killed, the second is where a cow bull, a female moose, is lying dead next to her three slaughtered calves.  As Mike says to Billy, “It’s a serial killing, Billy.  I don’t know what else to call it.”

The dead moose are on the property of multimillionaire Elizabeth Morse, a businesswoman who has bought thousands of acres of forest in eastern Maine to fulfill her dream of making the land a national park.  Elizabeth’s plan has run into steep opposition, however, from businessmen and loggers in the area who fear the end of their jobs.  Elizabeth’s promise that tourists will bring money into the area is falling on deaf ears, and she has received dozens of hostile letters and death threats.

Mike Bowditch isn’t the most popular game warden in Maine.  He’s a college graduate from a Portland suburb, as opposed to most of the other rangers who were brought up in the remote northern counties of the state, and he’s not very good at taking orders that he believes are unreasonable.  That’s why he’s been exiled to Washington County by Lieutenant Marc Rivard, his supervisor in the Maine Warden Service.

Marc takes Mike off the case, putting him out in the field with busywork that has little or no relevance to the animal shootings.  But, after a few days with no results in the investigation, Elizabeth Morse forces the lieutenant to put Mike back on the case as liaison between herself and the Service.  Marc isn’t happy about this, and actually neither is Mike, but Elizabeth wields a lot of power in Maine, even with all her enemies.

Then the case goes from animal slaughter to murder.

Mike Bowditch is a man who wants to do his job but who is continuously frustrated by the politics and small-mindedness of his superior officers.  He sees Marc Rivard for what he is, a self-aggrandizing man who is petty enough to try to keep Mike from handing a case that by rights belongs to Mike and to take credit for anything his troops do.

His view of Elizabeth Morse isn’t much more positive.  He sees that she uses her power, in her case monetary power, to get the things done that she wants, regardless of the impact it has on others.  She either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand that her plan of making a national park in this poverty-stricken area of Maine will put hundreds of people out of work.

Paul Doiron has written a wonderful mystery, the fourth in the Mike Bowditch series (see my review of The Poacher’s Son on this blog).  Mike Bowditch is a terrific protagonist, and the supporting characters are equally well-written.  Reading Massacre Pond will take you to the woods of Maine, with all its beauty, poverty, and problems.

You can read more about Paul Doiron at his web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.

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