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Bad Little Falls (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron
Cover Artist: Photo: Erik Meylemans
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312558482
Date: 07 August 2012 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Game Warden Mike Bowditch has been exiled to the frozen tundra of Washington County in Southeastern Maine, near the Canadian border. While driving home during a blizzard, he receives a call that a man suffering from hypothermia lies unconscious at the home of Ben and Doris Sprague. The victim is identified as suspected drug dealer Prester Sewall; he may lose his nose and all his toes and fingers because of frostbite. His partner, Randall Cates, is later found suffocated to death in a snowbank. During his investigation into Cates's murder, Bowditch discovers the two drug dealers had numerous enemies. Prester Sewall's family, he also learns, is a strange one, especially Presterís nerdy, diminutive nephew Lucas who yearns to become a horror writer.

Books by Paul Doiron:
Mike Bowditch Mysteries:
* Bad Little Falls
* Massacre Pond
* The Bone Orchard
* The Precipice
* Widowmaker

Paul Doiron's Bad Little Falls, with its frozen hell setting, is a gripping, atmospheric whodunit! This one will make you shiver with fear and cold, even when reading it on a hot summer day. The dead-of-winter setting is what I enjoyed most about Doiron's novel. He proves that one doesn't have to travel to Antarctic, Iceland, or Finland for an exotic locale that is freezing cold. Bowditch's love interest, Jamie Sewall, describes Washington County as the land of eternal winter; she dreams of escaping it. However, one man's hell may be another man's paradise. The author aptly describes Maine's beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. The locals enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, hunting and, unfortunately, taking recreational drugs. I've learned from reading numerous mysteries that cold environments have a high rate of substance abuse, spousal abuse and depression.

Bad Little Falls is my first Mike Bowditch novel and, hopefully, it won't be my last. I admire Bowditch for his work ethic. He refuses to back down. Consequently, he makes enemies with some of the locals--large, burly men--who conduct private hunting expeditions with wealthy businessmen; some of the expeditions become rather rowdy and dangerous. Soon someone is stalking and tormenting Bowditch. He/she calls themselves George Magoon, a fictional poacher who outsmarted wardens. The harassment ranges from nailing a coyote pelt to his front door to setting a skunk loose in his trailer. Threatening notes are also left behind. Thankfully, Bowditch is a fairly large man who knows how to protect himself. I would've seen that coyote skin and hightailed it back to the warmth of Virginia, where I live.

There is some romance in Bad Little Falls but it seems very one-sided. The middle-aged Bowditch takes a shining towards the young, helpless waif, Jamie Sewall, who is a shift manager at the local McDonald's. Blinded by lust, I don't think he realizes that she is trouble. Perhaps I am being too judgmental. Perhaps, having been raised in a broken home himself, Bowditch feels much sympathy towards the dysfunctional Sewall family. I also felt sorrow for them.

Bad Little Falls is a highly recommended mystery, especially for those who enjoy unusual settings and don't want to read one that transpires in a foreign country with names of characters that are difficult to pronounce. The novel's mystery is a rather complex one with a shocking ending that readers will find quite disturbing. There is a wide assortment of three dimensional characters. Also, there is a decent body count. Not a high one as in a violent, shoot-'em-up noir, but enough corpses to maintain a good pacing. My only gripe is that now I am compelled to read the first two best-selling Mike Bowditch novels, The Poacher's Son and Trespasser. Alas, if only I had more time in a day.

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