Long before I ever watched North Woods Law, my geocaching friends suggested reading Paul Doiron’s books about Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch. Trespasser is the second book in the series, and demonstrates that Doiron’s success with The Poacher’s Son was not just another “one-hit-wonder.”
It’s seven months after the events in the first novel and Mike Bowditch is still dealing with the fallout from those events. One evening while on patrol he receives a call of a woman hitting a deer. Arriving at the scene, all he finds are traces of blood in the road and the car that was damaged in the accident. Both the woman who called him and the deer have vanished. A state trooper arrives as part of the investigation and brushes off Mike’s concerns about the missing driver. Against his better instinct, Mike leaves the scene, but it continues to nag him over the next few days, especially when the driver is found in a condition that reminds Bowditch of an earlier crime where justice seems to have been served.
Or was it?
Doiron has woven together a great whodunit that left me guessing right to the end. His characters from this mud season of Maine are familiar to anyone who lives in New England. They are not the type of people that are held up by tourism boards as reasons to visit the state. They live on the fringes and want to be left alone, both by tourists and the law. When we first meet Mike again at the beginning of Trespasser, he’s dealing with the case of ATVers illegally driving on private land. It’s a common battle between outsiders and locals in these parts, and it goes both ways. There are people who come to “the country” for peace and quiet and are upset when locals regularly roar around on their ATVs; then there are locals who contend with people who come up on vacation and think they are entitled to break laws and not obey NO TRESPASSING signs because they are spending money.
The colorful characters and dreariness of this time of year are the backdrop to everything that’s going on, and they both help set the tone. There are many different things at play in Trespasser. Besides his work as a Game Warden, Bowditch is dealing with his personal life. He seems to continually shoot himself in the foot in both areas. He’s warned off investigating the case any further, but continues to ignore the advice from those around him who warn him his career is at stake. As the story winds on, he makes decisions he knows he shouldn’t; ones that can even be considered reckless.
Many things seemed to be gratuitous offshoots of what was happening at the center of the story. It’s hard to know as I’m reading what is relevant to solving the mystery and what is just part of Mike’s everyday work. That is what makes this work so well. Mike is doing his job and encountering things on a regular basis that may or may not be intrinsic to the main story. It keeps the suspense up well all through Trespasser.
I would suggest reading this series in order. There’s a lot here that builds off of events in The Poacher’s Son, as other things will down the road in the series. Trespasser is a good thriller/mystery that’s well worth your time.
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