The Poacher's Son: Mike Bowditch, #1 -- Paul Doiron
As I suspect I'll be doing a decent amount of readers' advisory for adults at my new job, I decided that I need to bone up a bit on adult fiction—over the past few years, I've read very little of it. SO, going forward, I'll be periodically posting about adult books.
TL;DR: Look at me, reading a grown-up book.
Mike Bowditch is a rookie game warden, only a few months into his very first posting on the coast of Southern Maine. One night, he gets home after dealing with a call about a black bear stealing a drunk guy's pig to find a message on his answering machine from his estranged father, who asks for his help.
He erases the message, but it sticks with him, and he tries to track his father down the next day—no easy feat on the best of days, considering the lack of cell phone reception in Northern Maine and his father's habit of heading off into the woods for days at a time. Then the news breaks: a cop has been shot and killed up north... and Mike's father is not only the prime suspect, but a fugitive.
As Mike puts it, his father is "a bar brawler, not a terrorist", so he heads on up to his childhood stomping grounds to try and figure things out. The local police want nothing to do with him, as they're convinced his father is the killer... so Mike puts everything on the line—his personal relationships, his career, even his own life—in his attempt to put things right.
Man, what is it about crime fiction that inspires me to break out every single hackneyed cliche there is? I can't help it. I love writing in Movie Trailer Voice. ANYWAY.
I enjoyed this one. Mike's a pretty classic crime hero, in that he's a loner with relationship troubles—both parental and romantic—though he doesn't have the issues with addiction that so many other literary detectives do. He speaks straightforwardly and distinctly—though not particularly distinctively, as he's not prone to literary flourishes or flights of fancy or dialect or other quirks—and he's got a great eye for detail, both in describing the people of Maine and capturing a sense of place.
He does a great job of showing the age-old love/hate feelings many Mainers have about people From Away, as well as portraying divides in economic class and level of education and so on. There's loads of really interesting state history that's interwoven into the narrative—actually, I guess that his tendency to digress into stories like that would count as a narrative quirk—and the author's note at the beginning lists a whole bunch of books I want to check out soon.
The only drawback was this: although the storyline dealt with issues of abandonment and betrayal, with faith and how hard it is to overcome our own past, oddly enough, I didn't find it all that emotionally engaging. The mystery itself was competent, though, and I truly didn't see the resolution coming, which is always cool.
I'll be reading the others in the series for sure, but more for the Maine stuff than for anything else.
Book source: Borrowed from my library.