The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Jacket Blurb: Game warden Mike
Bowditch returns home one evening to find a cryptic message on his
answering machine from his father, Jack, who he hasn't heard from in two
years. The next morning Mike gets a call from the police: a beloved
local cop has been killed and his father is their prime suspect.
to terms with his haunted past and desperate for answers, Mike and a
retired warden pilot journey deep into the Maine wilderness to clear his
father's name and find out why Jack is on the run. But the only way for
Mike to save his father is to find the real killer before the killer
Read as an audio book.
I enjoyed this. The game warden aspect was a refreshing change from the urban police procedurals I tend to gravitate to (John Sandford, Michael Connelly). I could relate to the Maine "Northwoods" setting, which is not all that dissimilar to my corner of the world, complete with hunting cabins, timber lands, and a Canadian border. I also understand that this was a first book, so some rough edges were not unexpected.
Premise of the book is, Mike Bowditch is a newly minted Maine Game Warden. His girl friend has recently left him for greener pastures, he confesses he's a loner and likes it that way, and then he finds out his estranged father is on the run and considered a fugitive for having killed two men and attacking a police officer. Mike puts his career on the line to help prove his father innocent.
The author did a pretty good job balancing/blending Mike's need to help his father with the reality of the situation: Mike has no idea where his dad is, he's convinced everyone is out to kill his father, but he's not part of the investigation in any way, shape or form. Until he's suspended from his job - which was where I started to cringe a bit (okay, a lot).
Mike was directed to report to his Big Boss Malcolm at 11am. The Detective in charge of the investigation calls Mike that morning and wants him to come North to "interview" a potential witness and gain her trust. Mike agrees, but doesn't call his Supervisor OR the Big Boss. The reader observes Mike's conundrum: find out some answers or loose his job. Out of everything in the book, I found this the least plausible. The obvious and simple solution would have been to have the Detective call the Big Boss, Mike call his Supervisor. It's the Detective asking him to come North, Mike was not going on his own accord and bucking orders.
I know this was to add in some emotional tension, but the whole set up just didn't fly with me, especially with the resolution at the conclusion.
I also didn't care for the whole Cops as Assholes vibe I kept getting. But that's my quirk.
Otherwise, a solid if not slightly predictable first book to what I hope will be an interesting series. Mike was interesting even though he seemed older than his 25 years. I liked Kathy (his supervisor),the game warden background is refreshingly different, and, as I noted above, I enjoyed the setting.
I'll be checking out the next book.
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