My rating: ★★★★✩
The Poacher's Son tells the story of a young game warden in the backwoods of Maine, trying to escape the shackles of a broken home and make a life for himself. His dad, a bit of a lowlife and (ex?)poacher becomes a suspect in a gruesome murder of another game warden and the rep of a company buying up forests in Maine and threatening to kick off people who have quasi-legal houses on the land. Tauntly and authentically written, this book is the first one in a while that kept meup reading.
Game Warden Mike Bowditch's life is a bit of a mess. Newly graduated from college, he loves the idea of being a Maine game warden, but his new wife isn't so crazy about life in the Great North Woods and has left him for the "bright" lights of Portland. Then he gets a mysterious message on his answering machine from his dad, who has become a fugitive after a double murder in his small home town. Now everyone suspects Mike's motives, although he's convinced the cops have the wrong man and is trying to find the truth without stepping on too many toes.
As a guy who has spent more than his fair share of time in the Maine woods, I can say that Mr. Doiron has nailed the woods, game wardens, and the relationships they have with everyone else. My relatives were more on the other side of the law :) but this Maine author writes with amazing clarity and accuracy. Hard to believe this is a debut novel!
My biggest complaint (and it's a tiny one!) is one I have had with plenty of mysteries lately - the police get fixated on a suspect too quickly and with too much rigidity. I think the police would be more flexible in their suspects, but many books have them picking someone out early and sticking with them, right or wrong, good evidence or bad. Seems a little forced, and it did here, as the evidence mounts in other directions.
But other than that, it was a really fun read. I couldn't put it down, staying up way too late the first night and finishing it up the second night. Easy read, with a tense, interesting story. I can't wait for Mike Bowditch #2!