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The Poacher's Son (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) Hardcover – May 11, 2010

236 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Down East editor-in-chief Doiron takes a provocative look at the ties between fathers and sons, unconditional love, and Maine's changing landscape in his outstanding debut. Game warden Mike Bowditch, who hasn't heard from his dad, Jack Bowditch, in two years, wonders what the man wants from him after he comes home late one night and finds Jack has left a cryptic message on his answering machine. Mike later learns Jack is the prime suspect in the shooting murders of a cop and a timber company executive. Jack, a brutal alcoholic, makes his living poaching game, but Mike can't believe Jack is a cold-blooded killer. Mike's belief in his father puts his job at risk, alienates him from the police, and drives him further away from the woman he loves. Fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr will appreciate the vivid wilderness scenes. Equally a story of relationships and an outdoor adventure, this evocative thriller is sure to put Doiron on several 2010 must-read lists. 100,000 first printing; author tour. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Doiron’s debut crime novel is set on the coast and in the North Woods of Maine, the home of rookie game warden Mike Bowditch. As tensions rise across the state with the impending sale of huge tracts of paper-company forest land to an out-of-state developer, Mike receives a strange message from his father, left on the same night the paper company rep and a state trooper are shot and killed after a heated town meeting. Doirin, editor-in-chief of Down State magazine, is well acquainted with the current political and cultural tensions that crisscross Maine, and his local knowledge drives this fast-paced and twisty narrative. With realistically flawed characters and a strong sense of place—both on the coast and in the woods—the novel avoids tourist stereotyping, of Maine itself and its citizens. As a game warden, Mike is devoted to upholding the law, and as a conflict appears to develop between that responsibility and his love for his estranged father, he finds himself with both his job and life on the line. One hopes this fine novel is the first in a series starring Warden Bowditch, who could quickly become the East Coast version of C. J. Box’s game-warden hero Joe Pickett, who patrols the range in Wyoming. --Jessica Moyer

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Product Details

  • Series: Mike Bowditch Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312558465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312558468
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Paul Doiron is an award-winning journalist and the author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels, including The Poacher's Son, which won the the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and a Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and the Maine Literary Award for "Best Fiction of 2010." PopMatters named it to its Best Fiction of 2010 list.

His second book in the Mike Bowditch series, Trespasser, won the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction, was an American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller and has been called a "masterpiece of high-octane narrative" by Booklist.

His third novel in the series, Bad Little Falls, was a Bookscan Bestseller and was a finalist for the RT Reviewers Choice Award and the Maine Literary Award.

The fourth Mike Bowditch book, Massacre Pond, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and was an Indie Next Pick and Indie Favorite, as well as a finalist for The Maine Literary Award.

The Bone Orchard, the fifth book in the series, was a Bookscan Bestseller and received a "Down East" Magazine "Best of Maine" award.

The sixth Mike Bowditch novel, The Precipice, was a Library Reads pick and spent three weeks on the American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller List.

A native of Maine, Paul attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He is Editor Emeritus of "Down East: The Magazine of Maine," having served as Editor in Chief from 2005 to 2013. He is also a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Click on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oh. My. Goodness. When you read as many mysteries every year as I do, it isn't very often that you'll come across one that can honestly be described as "extraordinary" in every sense of the word. But Paul Doiron's "The Poacher's Son" is just that sort of book.

Set in the Maine wilderness - a rough section of the state that is now being encroached upon by "civilization" - Doiron's hero is Mike Bowditch, a Maine Game Warden whose estranged father is accused of a double murder, including the death of a police officer. Certain of his father's innocence, Bowditch risks his reputation and his career to track down the real culprits. His investigation puts him in the path of an avalanche of surprise, mystery and terror that keeps sliding with gathering momentum right through to the final chapter. And the ending? It's a doozy!

Doiron has a genius for characterization, and a true gift for creating a vivid sense of time and setting. Warden Bowditch, with all his quirks and flaws, is a marvelous and unique creation, and the other characters are believably fleshed out ... you're never quite sure who is going to be helpful and who is going to turn out to be a hindrance, because everyone in the book has their own secrets and motivations.

I recommend this book without reservation of any kind, and hope that "The Poacher's Son" turns out to be the first of many successful ventures from the talented pen of Paul Doiron.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By madscientist_13 on May 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will start by saying I was a huge fan of the setting in Maine and this author really made the landscape come alive on the pages, which is something that I look for when I am reading. Also, Mike, as a character, is at times both so irritating and so human that you can just see him him through the pages. His character is well drawn that you can almost know ahead of time what he is going to next to to get in his own way because that is what he always seems to do but at his core his is a genuinely good guy who just wants to simultaneously get his father's approval while being a better man than his father. I think my favorite part of this novel was the intense humanity combined with the broadly drawn natural landscapes that made me ache to go and see this vast wilderness that exists in Maine. It's definitely a book worth checking out.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Leslie VINE VOICE on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Debut author Paul Doiron has penned a top-notch whodunit with his first novel The Poacher's Son. A myriad of twists and turns will keep the reader guessing as suspicion moves from one character to another until the startling conclusion.

Set in the wilderness of Maine the story centers around Mike Bowditch, the local game warden. Mike returns home one night to find a cryptic message on his answering machine from his father, Jack. The next day he finds out that the police are searching for a murderer who killed two people the night before and Jack is their prime suspect. Most of the locals and Mike's co-workers also believe Jack is involved in the murders. Jack has been far from the ideal father, neglecting Mike most of his life. In spite of this Mike feels compelled to defend his father and search for the real killer.

The book started out a little slow, but it was necessary to develop the various characters and provide the background information on Mike, his family, friends and co-workers. As we learn more about Mike and his relationships with other characters the pace of the story picks up. The writing style is fluid and descriptive; the Maine wilderness vividly comes to life.

The author deftly shifts suspicion from one character to another to keep the reader off balance. I've read a fair share of mystery novels and usually half way through the story I have a pretty good idea which one of the characters is guilty. That was not true with The Poacher's Son. I did not see that ending coming and for me those are the best kind of endings.

This was not a typical mystery novel. It was also a coming of age story about a young man and his relationships with key people in his life. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. This is book one in a series of three books about Mike Bowditch, Game Warden.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Timothy C Allison on July 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Often contemporary mysteries seem to use the plot device of a murder as more of a macguffin than as any actual whodoneit. In this case, there's a murder whose investigation allows for the exploration of the setting and the characters of the novel.
I found the setting to be very interesting and well developed. The world of northern Maine, and the routines of a Game Warden there, makes for unusual and intriguing reading. Doiron does an excellent job bringing the reader to this area that almost seems to exist in another time. Its physical remoteness necessitates a sort of living in the past, as so many modern conveniences either won't work, or are simply impractical in this environment.
I found myself less satisfied with the protagonist. He's a terrible investigator. He doesn't seem to be particularly good at his actual job (Game Warden). He consistently makes terrible decisions. And to top it off, he's a jerk to everyone. Several characters try to reach out to him (his estranged girlfriend, his boss, townspeople), only to be pushed away. At this point I was not as surprised by his actions as much as I was by theirs. Why bother with this guy? His only redeeming feature seemed to be that he was the protagonist.
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