"Trespasser" by Paul Doiron: Book Review

"Trespasser" by Paul Doiron
Minotaur, 310 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Maine's a mess, and so is Mike Bowditch.

It's "mud season"-- Maine's version of "March Madness"-- when winter pauses anxiously upon the doorstep of spring, with quick-melting snows, ice storms, and lots of slush on the roads.

As for Maine game warden Mike Bowditch, he's about as pulled-together as a men's-small parka on an NFL lineman.

His "problem father" issues came to a head in author Paul Doiron's debut mystery novel, "The Poacher's Son."

Mike's back-to-living-in (Mike's leaky-roofed cottage in the woods) girlfriend, elementary-school teacher Sarah Harris-- whom he met when thery were students at Colby College-- urges him to talk to someone. Anyone trained in counseling.

How about the wardens' chaplain? She's a nice lady, has helped many people. Even does floors.

Mike, however, brushes her off like a mosquito.

You do need help, buddy boy.

Instead, the warden is fixated on getting to the bottom of a disappearance. Which turns into a murder case. Make that two murders. No, make those ... that's going far enough.

Bowditch stumbles into this mess when he is called to the scene of a one-car accident. Well, one car and a deer.

The deer's gone, and so is the driver.

Two problems that will tie together significantly.

As if the driver's disappearance doesn't snowball into a (late) winter's tale of woe, the events begin to reek (rather like a vintage lobster trap) of a seven-year-old murder for which the convicted killer is believed to be innocent by a sizable claque.

Author (and magazine editor) Paul Doiron does a nice job of keeping his characters, setting, and plot au naturel. Everything about the novel seems decidedly real, which renders it all the more absorbing.

Doiron also thoughtfully addresses the in-the-moment decisions that can haunt a law-enforcement officer's conscience forever-- decisions for which the "collateral damage" can become dire, even tragic.

The author proves adept at making a half-dozen characters seem like plausible suspects in a thrilling mystery that's as solid as the rockiest point on the coast of Maine.

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