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The Bone Orchard (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron
Cover Artist: Dirk Wustenhagen / Trevillion Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250034885
Date: 15 July 2014 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Mike Bowditch is no longer a game warden in Washington County, Maine. Instead, he is a fishing guide for wealthy tourists. Mike learns his former boss and mentor, Kathy Frost, has shot to death a man in self-defense. This man was Jimmy Gammon, an Afghanistan war veteran who had been horribly scarred, both physically and psychologically, from an exploding bomb surgically implanted inside an innocent child.

A few nights later, Kathy steps onto her front porch to see why her dog, Pluto, is barking; she is critically wounded by a sniper. Mike arrives at the scene and barely escapes death himself. He begins investigating, despite harassment from angry game wardens and war veterans, and more violence ensues.

Paul Doiron's The Bone Orchard is the most intriguing of the Mike Bowditch mysteries (following Massacre Pond and Bad Little Falls). Poor Mike experiences a week of hell as he searches for the shooter responsible for putting Kathy into a coma. Wardens are angry with him for quitting the team. War vets are angry with him because one of their own has been killed by a game warden and they still consider Mike to be one. On top of that, he has many female problems. The girl of his dreams, Stacy Stevens, still holds a grudge against him for being responsible for her fiancé's arrest. A former college flame, Sarah, tries using him as a sexual distraction while still living with her older boyfriend. Danielle Tate, Kathy's partner, detests Mike; she thinks he blames her for Kathy’s shooting.

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

Despite threats and intimidations, Mike, who is a large, scruffy man, isn't deterred from trying to locate Kathy's shooter. While reading The Bone Orchard, I kept thinking, "There sure are a lot of big men in Maine." Mike visits his friend, Billy Cronk, who is in prison; he is a humongous man. So are some wardens and Afghanistan vets whom Mike encounters. One of the shooting suspects is described as "Neanderthal" in appearance. I guess one must be strong and powerful to survive the harsh, unforgiving climes of Maine, which is a large, beautiful state. Paul Doiron describes it as though it is a foreign country, with exotic flora and fauna. Everyone has snow mobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and pickup trucks. I can understand why Maine is popular with the tourists. Furthermore, it is next door to Canada.

Why do I like The Bone Orchard more than any of the other Mike Bowditch novels? Why do I highly recommend it to mystery fans? Despite its spectacular setting; graphic (sometimes gory) violence; vast assortment of realistic characters; and emotional, human drama; it is the whodunit mystery that grabbed me. Who shot Kathy Frost? She's a good, hardworking woman who doesn't deserve to die. But someone hates her because she was forced to shoot and kill someone in self-defense. Someone has been hiding in the shadows, burning with vengeance, waiting for the right time to strike. And they will murder again and again in order to keep their secrets forever buried in the bone orchard.

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