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The Poacher's Son (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) (edition 2010)

by Paul Doiron

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3215234,553 (3.7)54
Member:susiesharp
Title:The Poacher's Son (Mike Bowditch Mysteries)
Authors:Paul Doiron
Info:Minotaur Books (2010), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Reviewed, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:B&N First Look, Mystery.1010 Challenge, new release, March 2010, 2010

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The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron

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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Oh my. The further this story unfolds, the more flawed and quirky Mike Bowditch's character becomes. In many ways Mike puts me in mind of another game warden: Joe Pickett out Wyoming way in C.J. Box's series. There's one major difference between Mike and Joe, however. Mike's conflicted relationship with his parents has made him a bit passive aggressive. He's as stubborn as they come, but shows very little initiative in actually getting out there and finding clues. His investigation has no strategy and a wherever-the-wind-blows-me mentality. By book's end, I think a lot of that has been knocked out of him.

And not just by the action. As much as I liked Mike Bowditch, it was the character of former warden Charley Stevens that really caught my eye. Charley's a bit of a legend in those parts. There's little he hasn't seen or done, and he knows when to be a bull in a china shop and when to use the charm of a snake oil salesman. He sees something in Mike and goes out of his way to help the young man. I'm looking forward to seeing how the relationship between these two men develops in future books.

The third character in this book that caught my imagination was the Maine wilderness. It's a part of the world to which I've never been, but Doiron's descriptions of it remind me of many of my favorite wild places here in Arizona. Doiron has a lot to say about the wilderness and what's being done to it, and it defines Mike Bowditch's character in a way nothing else in the book can. I can only nod in heartfelt agreement when Mike says, "Nature will forgive humankind just about anything, and what it won't forgive I hope never to witness."

I've come to love certain crime fiction writers for their love of wild spaces... Nevada Barr, Pamela Beason, Craig Johnson, C.J. Box. Now Paul Doiron joins this group. I'm looking forward to watching Mike Bowditch mature in those deep, beautiful Maine woods. ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 10, 2013 |
I have never been to Maine but after devouring THE POACHER’S SON over the weekend I feel as if I have spent a couple of weeks in the state’s back woods. With its first person narration and often viscerally confronting scenes it immerses the reader in its setting: a small, isolated community dominated by tough men, poverty and the natural beauty of the landscape (not necessarily in that order).

Mike Bowditch is a rookie game warden (which for the uninitiated like me means he is a ‘real’ cop) whose life falls apart when his wastrel drunk of a father is accused of the murder of two men, one of them a policeman. Although Mike has almost no relationship with his father he believes him innocent and this sets him against his fellow law enforcement officers, including his own superiors. His own service is not directly involved in the investigation but everyone in local law circles gets involved when Jack Bowditch escapes custody, by handcuffing his captor to a tree, and goes on the run. While everyone is looking for his dad Mike starts looking for alternative suspects.

It wasn’t the crime fiction plot of this one that kept me engaged (to be honest it’s a bit shallow and for the first two thirds of the book really doesn’t go too far beyond a few speculative accusations being flung about). However both the setting and the characters are very well drawn…way above the average offerings. Mike is in his mid-20′s and it shows: he’s impulsive and hasn’t quite found his feet as an adult yet. He’s broken up with his long-standing girlfriend, has an awkward (at best) relationship with his dad and precious few friends his own age. He is resistant to the way the world is changing; at one point someone calls him ‘the youngest old fart around’ or something similar and I thought this an interesting characteristic to depict. Although the whole story takes place in the present Mike shares plenty of memories of his childhood which provide readers with real insight into his relationship with his dad and the reasons for some of his own adult behaviour. I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for Mike in having to deal with the simmering animosity from his law enforcement colleagues, virtually all of whom were scornful of him purely because of his relationship to Jack Bowditch even before Mike professed any belief in his father’s innocence. I’m sure this is quite realistic but harsh nevertheless.

The author’s love for the physical landscape is obvious (he is a registered guide for the state and editor of a local magazine) and translated well to the page. This city girl had no difficulties imagining Mike in his largely solitary role traversing the remote areas of beautiful trees and lakes. A little less happily I also had no trouble picturing the various animal deaths described in the book, all on the violent side but not gratuitously so as they were definitely part of the natural story (though I haven’t eaten meat for days now). I can definitely see this book fitting well into the strong American tradition of a kind of rural crime fiction that celebrates its landscape while depicting misdeeds and worse (e.g. Nevada Barr, C.J. Box).

I liked the way THE POACHER’S SON was driven by a character not yet fully grown into himself and not only because this gives him room for future instalments but also because it is not something we see a lot of in crime fiction, at least not on this side of the law. I loved the book’s evocative setting. The plot, while definitely the less well developed element of the novel, had a stronger ending than beginning which is the opposite of most books and there was enough in it all to suggest this author is one who will improve. This read was yet another that came via one of the good recommendations with which I am blessed and in turn I recommend it highly to all.
  bsquaredinoz | Apr 9, 2013 |
Really enjoy his writings on Maine and its characters. ( )
  wbwilburn5 | Sep 26, 2012 |
This debut mystery novel by Paul Doiron, The Poacher’s Son is both well written and absorbing. The story is of a rookie game warden who has to come to terms with his feelings for his father, while at the same time, trying to clear his father from the suspicion of murder.

Mike Bowditch is a rookie game warden in the northern woods of Maine, and strongly identifies with the vanishing wilderness both due to his love of nature and the strong ties his father has with the backwoods country. He and his father have a complicated relationship, and Mike has spent his life trying to gain the respect and approval of a man that just doesn’t seem that interested in bonding with his son.

When he learns of a double murder and that his father is the number one suspect, Mike is torn between his law officer status and his conviction in his father’s innocence. Having to make some difficult decisions, Mike follows his belief and ends up alienating his colleagues. Although he knows all too well that his father, a hard-drinker and womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game, has his demons, he strongly believes in his innocence.

I found this to be a page turning mystery and particularly enjoyed the Maine north woods setting. A very good debut that is a combination mystery, outdoor adventure and a story of relationships. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 8, 2011 |
A callow young game warden in Maine tries to help his long-absent father when he's accused of murder. Nice sense of place and strong writing, but the protagonist was a bit dense at times and the slam-bang ending was a bit of a disappointment.
  bfister | Jul 3, 2011 |
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When I was nine years old, my father took me deep into the Maine woods to see an old prisoner of war camp. (Prologue)
A black bear had gotten into a pigpen out on the Beechwood Road, and it had run off with a pig.
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Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive—his own father

Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father Jack, a hard drinking womanizer who makes his living illegally poaching game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.

Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop-killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack’s brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, he strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. But the only way for Mike to save his father is to find the real killer—which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.
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Desperate and alone, game warden Mike Bowditch strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive--Mike's father. But the only way for Mike to save his father is to find the real killer--which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.… (more)

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