In the wilds of Maine: The Poacher’s Son

Over the last month, I’ve been really lucky, recruiting a bunch of new TBYL Reviewers who, without exception love to read, read and read!

Today’s review is from our newest additions to the crew, Jennie Diplock-Storer. You can find out more about Jennie here, and today, you can read all about what she thought of The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron (Allen and Unwin)…

***

I have a litmus test when it comes to assessing whether I’ll read books by authors unknown to me: I read the first couple of paragraphs. They have to grab me. Paul Doiron’s, The Poacher’s Son, did just that!

the poacher's sonSet in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive – his own father. Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living from poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: they are searching for a cop-killer – and Mike’s father is their prime suspect.

Now, alienated from the woman he loves and shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand of his father’s brutality, but is he capable of murder? Desperate and alone, the only way for Mike to save his father is to find the real killer – which could mean putting everyone he loves into the line of fire…

The Poacher’s Son is placed in the genre of crime, but Doiron’s manner of writing makes it much more than that. His beautiful and detailed description of the Maine countryside through the eyes of the protagonist Mike Bowditch, is displayed throughout the book and adds much to it’s readability.

There is also much humour, a wonderful use of analogies, fulfilling descriptions of characters, (often making me smile), and a gentle prose.

Mike Bowditch is a Warden in Maine, legally protecting flora and fauna, and ensuring law abidence in waterways and hunting. Here is the obvious difference between father and son. Jack Bowditch is a poacher, estranged from his son since Mike was nine. The two occasions on which they were reunited stay stained in the memory of Mike by alcohol, violence, disrespect and blood.

It is obvious from the start that Mike has purposefully chosen a career in complete opposition to all his father stands for. Yet they both share a desire for seclusion, even if for different reasons. Jack has pathological differences with people of all walks of life and Mike chooses a “solitary & morbid profession” to avoid looking into himself and his past. Much of Mike’s decision to become a Law Officer was to make amends for his father’s petty crimes and violence.

So why then, when Jack Bowditch is accused of a double homicide, including the murder of a police officer known to Mike, then aggravated assault of a second officer as he escapes arrest, does Jack reach out to Mike and Mike fervently defend his father’s innocence?

Here is where things speed up, as Mike makes decisions impacting everything in his life to prove his father innocent.

History and storytelling amidst the chase of a suspect colours the book beautifully and is a bonus for the reader. The incredible description of the nature of Maine and the precise attention to detail stops this being a black and white crime book. We follow Mike Bowditch, who sees himself as not on the side of his dad or the cops but ” the rope in a tug of war”, as he tries to find the truth. It’s fast-paced, as Mike tries to find his father before the police do.

Published overseas in 2010, this was Doiron’s debut novel, met with much acclaim. He has since written two more. Now, with this Australian publication I highly recommend The Poacher’s Son to crime lovers, and to those who enjoy a good, well written book. Doiron hs certainly made it to my list of authors.

***

If you’d like to find out more about The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron visit the Allen and Unwin website here…