on 9 October 2012
This is the first book in a series about a Maine Game Warden. He is just 24 years old and just starting his career in the forests of Maine. The Story is about his father being accused of killing two people and his son trying to cope with that. Paul Doiron, the author, is from Maine and the way he describes the area in the book is just about perfect. You get a real feeling for the territory and the people living there.
The Story is a little slow to begin with but it is so well written that you just want to read on to see what is happening. This is not a CIS type of mystery and there are no serial killers but Mr Doiron manages to make the story interesting from both a human as well as a criminal viewpoint. The End is a real explosion of events and it contains a number of surprises. This is a very good start of a new series. I have already bought the other two books he has written and will continue to follow the events of Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch in the future.
Mike Bowditch is a game warden in Maine. His parents split up when he was nine and he has had only sporadic contact with his maverick father over the years. Late one night a message is left on his answerphone from his father, Jack. The next morning he hears that two men have been shot and killed in northern Maine (one of whom is a warden) and that a manhunt is on for his father who is the prime suspect. While Mike's colleagues have no doubt about Jack's guilt, Mike finds it impossible to believe that his father could be a murderer. It seems that the only way to clear his father's name is to investigate the murders himself, even if it means throwing his career away.
What makes this book stand out are two things: the rounded and believable characters and the way that the Maine wilderness is so vividly depicted. It's a pleasure to read. The central mystery unfolds slowly but stays intriguing throughout. At one stage I thought it was going to unfold in a predictable fashion but I can honestly say I was completely wrong in my guess about how it was going to come together. I understand that this is the first in a series about Mike Bowditch and I plan to read the others.
Another crime thriller that paves the way for the arrival of a potentially great series featuring the character of Mike Bowditch, a young Maine game warden, thrust into an investigation where the chief suspect is his estranged father. With, at times, lyrical prose and a sense of location that eloquently portrays the natural beauty of backwoods Maine, this novel held my attention throughout and here's why...
What this book most movingly conveys is a young man's struggle, at the beginning of what could be a promising career, to balance the demands of his profession with the demands of family loyalty. Despite his dysfunctional upbringing at the hands of his entirely irresponsible father, the nagging sense of duty Mike experiences to defend his father's name when implicated in a senseless murder, leads him into an emotional case that could be the undoing of his own career. Mike experiences a maelstrom of emotions that cause him to act very much out of character, but highlight his single minded determination to not only solve the case but attempt to lay to reast the ghosts of his past life. As Mike disobeys the edicts of his superiors to track down his father on the run through the wild terrain, he takes an uncomfortable journey back to the source of his uneasy relationship with his father to determine his father's guilt or innocence, with other formerly peripheral figures from his formative years, having their own part to play in his search for the truth. The characterisation is perfectly weighted throughout the book, not only in the central charaters of Mike and his father, but by those who seek to help or hinder this troubled young man in his emotionally difficult case. There are two particularly well-realised female characters in the novel. Mike's colleague Kathy Frost, understands Mike's torn loyalties and in her own straight talking manner endeavours to keep him on the right track, recognising the promise in him, and she is set against BJ, a figure from Mike's past who re-enters his life, skilfully manipulating him and his father, in her role as a kind of backwoods femme fatale. Through the machinations of a great cast of characters, Doiron, weaves a great plot, which not only plays out as a solid murder mystery, but also encapsulates the struggle of life in a community now controlled at the behest of all powerful logging companies, who have tightened their hold, and dictate to a large extent the socio-economic life of this community and highlighting the tensions that arise within.
What struck me most about this book was the absolute attention paid to location and sense of place. I have read a number of contemporary American fiction writers, who in the naturalistic tradition of American literature, wield their portrayal of landscape as almost another character in their books and Doiron achieves the same effect. His grasp of description and the use of natural images is superlative throughout the book, appealing to the reader's senses and awakening our imagination to a locale, that many of us will never witness, but feel that we can picture with astonishing clarity. With the destruction of the landscape and communities, I highlighted earlier, Doiron challenges us to weigh up the demands of big business, against the huge loss of a beautiful wilderness previously unspoilt. This he achieves by the emotional weight he pours into his lyrical depiction of this area and makes for another undercurrent of interest to the central storyline.
In closing I would say that this novel appealed to me on many levels with the sheer balance achieved between an engaging plot, solid characterisation and the strength of Doiron's description of both the environment and the conflicts that arise within it. A very satisfying read and an author that I would most certainly recommend.
The Poacher's Son is the first book in Paul Doiron's series featuring Mike Bowditch - a Maine Game Warden and was originally published in 2010.
It was the winner of the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel as well as being nominated for the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, the Thriller Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Maine Literary Award for Best Fiction of 2010.
This hardback edition has been published in the UK by Constable & Robinson - C&R Crime and was on sale from 17 January 2013.
Mike Bowditch is a rookie Maine game warden who finds himself involved in a murder investigation and a man-hunt. Two men have been killed in cold-blood and the prime suspect is Jack Bowditch - a hard-drinking, violent man who also happens to be Mike's father. Despite the fact that Jack was never a great father figure and that they have not even spoken for two years, Mike is pulled in two directions. He wants to believe that his father is innocent, he needs to prove that Jack has been set-up, but he is also a law-enforcement officer and has to abide by the rules.
The plot is fast-paced with many twists and turns, introducing red-herrings and new characters throughout the story. It is a well thought out and often thrilling tale and Mike is a great lead character, if a little flawed. Throughout the story, there are flash-backs to Mike's childhood - these scenes allow the reader to gain some insight into how and why he became a game warden - in total contrast to his father's 'career' as a poacher. Mike is not the best investigator in the world and has a lot to learn, but this is the first in a series and I'm hoping that his character will grow and mature over the course of it. In The Poacher's Son it is the supporting cast of characters and the location that really made the novel so readable for me.
Living in Lincolnshire in the UK, I had no knowledge whatsoever of the county of Maine, and didn't know anything about the Game Wardens that operate out there. Paul Doiron's descriptive prose brought the whole place to life for me - the desolation, the eerieness, the animals, the people who live there. He really does know how to paint a fantastic landscape with words and it is this that makes the series quite unique.
A great start to a series, I'll certainly look out for the next in the series.
on 6 August 2015
As others have said, the Mike Bowditch series by Paul Doiron, of which the fifth appreared in summer 2015, is outstanding, and this is the one where it all starts.
If you're a fan of CJ Box and his hero Joe Pickett, you're bound to draw comparisons. Both Joe and Mike are game wardens, and both are men of integrity, with an inclination to speak out when they should remain silent. But Mike Bowditch is still young (he starts out at only 24), and unlike Joe, tends to be somewhat impulsive - often to his own detriment, whether in his love life or in his relations with his superiors. Basically he's a flawed and slightly tortured soul, and as the series progresses, Doiron does a marvellous job of charting his growing awareness of his weaknesses and his attempts to keep them in check. However, here in the opener, the focus is very much on his readiness to take risks for what he believes is a worthy cause (championing his wild and errant father when he is accused of murder).
For a first novel, this is remarkable for its assured writing and its vivid characters and settings. Maine is portrayed as a place of grandeur but also of bleakness, with more than its share of poverty. One suspects that Doiron has a deep fondness for it, but he doesn't let that compromise the 'warts and all' picture he paints. As the story builds up from its measured start to a dramatic conclusion, he manages to avoid too much of a sense of melodrama through the vigorous and resonant way he tells it. By the end, he leaves you wanting more, and it was a relief to me to know that there were four more novels to look forward to.
I duly read them all, and they didn't disappoint. Already, I would say Doiron has gone a long way towards justifying a place among the legends of series novel-writers of this kind.
on 31 July 2013
Mentally I always turn anything I read into a visual form, but this book turned itself into a full-colour, cinemascope film. There are some intensely moving but very dark scenes where I wanted to shout, "Cut", but I just couldn't stop reading. I'm about to buy the next Mike Bowditch!
on 12 December 2012
Realy enjoyed it and recommend it. Only snag couldn't put it down so make sure you have time to read it!
on 6 June 2013
This is an excellent debut novel. Mike Bowditch is a game warden in Maine. The dramatic landscape and the details of his work are very well described and this was what I really enjoyed the most. The story begins with Mike's estranged father on the run after being accused of murder and continues with Mike's efforts to clear his name and find a way to be a worthy son. Although the plot passed muster, I did towards the end feel that Mike acted in a self-destructive way once too often and was let off the hook a bit too easy. But for a first novel I thought it was very promising and I look forward to reading the others in the series.
on 4 December 2012
A pleasant read, nothing earth shattering but passes the time. Gives an in site into what I perceive as the problems when large modern conglomerates take over what has hither to been a large industry run by local companies, this is my perspective as an Englishman, if you are from the area and I am wrong let me know. This is a story of a murder of a policeman and an executive from the logging conglomerate, its reasonably entertaining but nothing earth shattering. This seems to be the first in a series, would I buy further from the series probably if the price is right, one thing that I did find frustrating was the poor conversion to kindle format, this has resulted in quite a few words throughout the text being split into two and occasionally three parts with spaces between, most annoying as it spoils the flow of the text.
on 6 December 2012
Mike Bowditch is a 24-year-old game warden in rural Maine who learns that his estranged, womanising, hard-drinking father is on the run for killing two people.
As the mystery is solved we learn about Mike's childhood, why he became a warden, and a lot about rural Maine.
Competent is the word that springs to mind. Mike is only young, and not very interesting, so we don't care that much about him. Maine is well described but some of the sections feel more like a newspaper article. Much of the book just seemed a little too much by-the-numbers.
It was a quick, easy read. I did not grasp until after I'd finished it (thanks to Amazon) that this is the first of a planned series.
I'm not tempted to read any more in any such series. Perhaps things will improve.