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Massacre Pond: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron
Cover Artist: Joel Calheiros / Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250033932
Date: 16 July 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Read an excerpt / Show Official Info /

In Washington County, Maine, on the estate of wealthy Betty Morse, ten moose are found wantonly shot and left to rot. Enraged wardens, including Mike Bowditch who found the slain animals, investigate the carnage. Mike discovers that a multitude of locals, including rednecks, poachers, and lumber mill employees, are filled with contempt towards Morse who built an empire based on the slick marketing of homemade herbal supplements--a type of modern snake oil. The tension escalates after a young woman is murdered, her car having been forced into a tree. Then more deaths follow as Mike gets closer to a horrifying truth.

After reading a Paul Doiron novel, I feel as though I have just returned from a camping trip, albeit one that is filled with mystery and intrigue. He does a superb job of describing animal and plant life as though he has been raised in the woods as a type of Grizzly Adams. In his last action-packed mystery, Bad Little Falls, Washington County, on the Canadian border, was experiencing a frigid winter. Now, in Massacre Pond, residents are experiencing an unseasonably warm Indian summer. It may be a product of global warming.

Paul Doiron's latest novel introduced to me one of the worst environmental fanatic I have ever encountered--Betty Morse. This haughty, stubborn woman is a cross between billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley ("We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.") and homemaking icon Martha Stewart. Morse's plans for Moosehorn National Park will cause many locals to lose their jobs at Skillens' Lumber Mill. Many families will suffer. I equate this with wealthy politicians who relocate their companies overseas, causing numerous Americans to lose their jobs.

The killing of the ten moose is referred to as the worst wildlife crime in Maine history. Personally, I couldn't get too heartbroken over it, especially upon learning that dozens of children were recently massacred in the Syrian town of Houla. I would have been more distraught if punks had broken into the Virginia Zoological Park, located near my home, and massacred ten endangered animals, such as orangutans, red pandas, giraffes, etc. There are plenty of moose. Maine issues licenses to hunt them. However, what I enjoyed most about the novel was the excellent diversity and depiction of characters and the human drama that results. Besides Morse and her oddball family, there are some other strange, perverse characters: a racist recluse, Karl Keith Khristian (K.K.K.) who likes to poach; an obese, pedophile, Chubby LeClair, who sells drugs; and Billy Cronk, a Neanderthal loser, who has more brawn than brains and is always getting arrested.

Our likeable hero, Mike Bowditch, is struggling with a lot of personal issues. Chiefly, he is in love with a friend's daughter, Stacey Stevens, a wildlife biologist. They have much in common. Unfortunately, she is engaged to wealthy, handsome Matt Skillen, who will inherit Skillens' Lumber Mill. Matt makes Mike feel inferior. Mike receives tragic news about his mom and stepfather. He also begins to question whether or not he should remain a warden in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. He has his heart set on becoming a warden investigator but his nemesis, the evil, power hungry Lt. Marc Rivard, is determined to keep him exiled in Washington County; Rivard has turned a lot of the other wardens against Mike.

If American readers are hunting for an intriguing mystery with an exotic locale and bizarre characters, they don't have to look for one that is set farther than their own borders. Northern Maine, with its rugged terrain, is exotic enough. Paul Doiron's latest novel, Massacre Pond, provides us with a colorful, fast-paced, intriguing mystery that will delight both new and old fans of his Mike Bowditch novels.

I was thrilled to learn that Mike and I share a common dislike of squirrels. We've both been tormented by them. Sometimes I have a difficult time getting them out of my attic. We see them as rats with long, furry tails. According to Mike, they are ferocious killers that will eat baby birds. That is gross! I'll never be able to look at them again without cringing with disgust.

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