A Mike Bowditch Mystery by Paul Doiron
Review: Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is troubled by the lack of follow-up by the police when a minor accident along a dark stretch of road results in a missing driver in Trespasser, the second mystery in this series by Paul Doiron.
Bowditch is called to the scene of a car/deer collision, only to find both the driver of the car and the victim of the accident — the deer — missing. A tow truck is called to take away the car, and a state trooper, who arrives late, agrees to write up the report. It is, after all, his jurisdiction. The car, according to the rental papers, was being driven by Ashley Kim, up from Boston, but destination in Maine unknown. The most likely explanation is that she was driving under the influence, didn't want to get caught, and took off before the authorities arrived. Still, Bowditch believes there's something wrong with the scene, that this isn't a minor accident, and that someone ought to be out looking for the missing Ashley Kim. And that someone might as well be him.
The murder mystery in Trespasser is nicely crafted, and the Maine setting during "mud season" adds an atmospheric backdrop to the narrative, but these are not this novel's strongest selling points. (One may quibble that there are a few too many details surrounding the case that should have been explored, that should have made a difference, but are glossed over to advance the plot. An author's note at the end suggests why this may have been intentional.) Rather, it is all about character here, and this is one terrific series character. Doiron does a fine job of capturing the impetuousness of youth and the lack of wisdom from experience in Mike Bowditch. He's aggressive in his actions and confident in his abilities … even when one hand is broken and unusable. Yet he also makes one rash, often ill-advised decision after another, knowing full well that it might not be the right step to take. In a less well-developed character, this might come off as unrealistic, even unbelievable. Here, it seems natural, just Bowditch being Bowditch. At one point, another law enforcement official says to him, "I have no idea what to make of you. On the one hand, you have the highest conviction rate of any warden in the service, according to your lieutenant. On the other hand, your colonel is taking bets in Augusta on when you'll quit or be fired." This is a strong character, one perfectly suited for his job as game warden of a vast, relatively remote coastal region in Maine, and one that lifts Trespasser into the top tier of murder mysteries published this summer.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Trespasser for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Bad Little Falls
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), August 2012
ISBN-13: 9780312558482; ISBN-10: 0312558481
Location(s) referenced in Trespasser: Maine
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Trespasser by Paul Doiron — A Mike Bowditch Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $24.99