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THE PRECIPICE by Paul Doiron: Book Review

It’s been exactly two years since I reviewed Massacre Pond and five years since I reviewed The Poacher’s Son.  Now Paul Doiron’s series featuring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch continues with The Precipice.

Mike is now several years older and more experienced than when we first met him, and he still cares passionately about his state and its resources.  However, he has recognized the need to be more cautious in his approach to the various aspects of his job, not to rush into situations without thinking them through first.  Or at least that’s his goal.

His resolve is tested when he gets news that two recent college graduates, Samantha Boggs and Missy Montgomery, are missing in the Appalachian Trail’s Hundred Mile Wilderness.  Three days after the date they told their respective parents they would call home, no word has been received, and the parents, now frantic, have contacted the appropriate authorities to begin the search.

Usually people reported missing on the Trail are found within one or two days.  But these women have been out of touch for two weeks, an unreasonable amount of time to be explained away by a simple hiking mishap.  Even though the AT (Appalachian Trail) extends from Georgia to Maine and goes through some very rugged and remote territory, there are always hikers and climbers on the Trail.  In addition, there are trail clubs or huts to sleep in, and the AT passes numerous small towns and farms.  So why has no one come forward to say they have seen Samantha and Missy since their last check-in at the Chairback Mountain hut, days before the search begins?

At the beginning of the search, Mike is paired with Bob “Nonstop” Nissen, a man twenty years his senior but in even better condition than Mike.  Bob is aloof, condescending, and seems to view the search for the missing women as a contest, an opportunity for him to be the first to find them and get another notch in his belt.  Mike, however, isn’t looking for recognition; his only interest is finding Samantha and Missy.  But as one day follows another, the likelihood of a successful outcome recedes.

When we first meet Mike Bowditch in The Poacher’s Son, he’s a man in his early twenties with a lot to prove.  His father, Jack, is known through the state as an extremely successful poacher, something that makes Mike’s new colleagues’ heads turn when they hear his last name.  He doesn’t want to disown his father, but neither does he want to live his father’s life.  By the time Mike appears in The Precipice, he’s much more his own man, but of course his family history continues to follow him.  Which is true of everyone, I guess, whether “real” or “fictional.”

Paul Doiron’s love of Maine comes through in each of his novels.  Reading The Precipice is almost like hiking the Trail, so evocative is the picture of the wilderness that the author’s writing creates.  His characters, too, are wonderfully drawn and believable.  The sixth novel in the series is a terrific addition to Doiron’s body of work.

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

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