The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron

poachers sonMike Bowditch is a rookie game warden in Maine, with a strong need to prove his worth at his new job.  After all, he is the son of the notorious Jack Bowditch, a womanizer and game poacher extraordinaire who has been a distant figure to Mike for several years.

Jack has had numerous altercations with the law.  None have been so serious as the charges in the shootings of a police officer and civilian, the latter a representative from a mega-lumber company that’s getting ready to buy up a large chunk of forest land.  There’s several possibilities, but Jack is the likely suspect, and he’s gone – presumably over the border to Quebec.

Mike desperately wants to believe his father is innocent and is willing to butt some heads to prove his point – within his own department and in other law enforcement agencies.  Unfortunately, he alienates nearly everyone close to him professionally or personally, including his superiors, and his ex-girlfriend.  Help thankfully comes to Mike in the person of a retired game warden who spends more time in the air than on the ground.

The Poacher’s Son satisfies on different levels – it is a grit-lit thriller, a police procedural, a study in wayward father/son relationships, and a story of how a massive manhunt affects a largely vacant stretch of country,  The author envisions the woods of rural Maine as a contradictory entity into itself – as an area of rustic comfort, with its rural solitude and log cabins, and as a menace, where the elements can trip up the unwary and the worst critters are the two-legged kind.

Doiron doesn’t sugarcoat the duties of game wardens, portraying the occupation as dangerous and often thankless.  He also bemoans the relentless march of development on the largely wild sections of his home state.

This book begins the series, and there are several more.  If you’ve enjoyed the series but haven’t read the latest, it’s The Precipice.  Get it at your public library.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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