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Posts Tagged ‘Maine game warden’

KNIFE CREEK by Paul Doiron: Book Review

Did you know that there’s really an invasion of feral hogs coming up the east coast from the south?  It has reached the woods of northern Maine, beginning to impact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and most particularly game warden Mike Bowditch.

Mike and his girlfriend Stacey, a biologist for the same state agency, are in the woods hoping to kill a sow and her piglets.  Feral hogs are huge, often weighing over two pounds and are extremely destructive to the environment, tearing up whole whole forests and polluting streams with their waste.  They also carry several diseases and parasites, which is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has advised killing them on sight.

Stacey quickly dispatches the two sows in the group, and when she and Mike go over to get a closer look they find the remains of an infant buried in the mud.  Near the baby’s body the initials KC have been scratched into the bark of a tree.  Two days earlier, Mike had been at this very spot looking for the swine and neither the corpse nor the initials had been there.

Returning to the area the next day, Mike talks to the owner of the local convenience store, Eddie Fales.  Eddie tells him he knows everyone who lives in the area and that no one is living in the woods.  He sounds convincing, but still Mike decides to drive a bit farther down the road and check things out.  Just about at the end of the road there’s a house, almost abandoned-looking but showing tire marks that someone has tried to brush away from the driveway.  Calling the state police detective in charge of the case, he is told she’ll send a trooper in the morning to look into who might be living in the house and that Mike should stay away in the meantime.  But, Mike being Mike, he’s not able to leave the puzzling question unanswered.

Thus starts the harrowing adventure that is Knife Creek, the eighth in the Mike Bowditch mystery series.  Mike is a great protagonist, dedicated to his job, caring and compassionate to his friends, definitely not afraid to break a few rules when he thinks it’s necessary.  The latter is what got him into trouble early in his career, and it’s something he’s still dealing with–when to follow his superiors’ orders and when not to.  And in this novel there are plenty of occasions he decides to go his own way, for better or worse.

Paul Doiron has written another powerful book in this series, one that will keep you on edge until the very end.  The setting, the plot, and the characters are all first-rate; of course, by this time I expect nothing less from the author.  FYI, I’ve chosen Trespasser, the second Mike Bowditch novel, to represent the state of Maine in the course on New England mysteries I’m teaching in the fall at Brandeis University’s BOLLI Program.

You can read more about Paul Doiron at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.


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.