Widowmaker (Mike Bowditch)
by Paul Doiron
Cover Artist: Andi Frank / Gallery Stock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250063700
Date: 14 June 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Widowmaker is Paul Doiron's most controversial, most bizarre novel to date. It deals primarily with sex offenders and the public's perception and treatment of them. Do they deserve the harsh treatment that is afforded them after they have served their time in prison? According to Mike, sex offenders in Maine can't even own firearms in order to defend themselves. Furthermore, one of the novel's most flamboyant characters is Nathan Minkowski, a.k.a. Mink. He is a short, rotund middle-age man who wears mink coats, dresses, and wigs. Insisting that he isn't a pervert, he achieves sexual gratification by wearing women's clothing.
Addiction is a word that comes to my mind. In this novel, you will find men addicted to sexual perversion as well as to drugs and alcohol. Mike encounters drug addicts who own Shadow, a large, beautiful wolf hybrid. He spends the night with the family of District Warden Gary Pulsifer who is a recovering alcoholic; Gary attends AA meetings. As for Mike, he isn't addicted; he is haunted--haunted by the memories of his notorious father, Jack Bowditch, who was a murdering poacher. Mike yearns for a normal family; this is one of the primary reasons for him agreeing to search for his half-brother, Adam Langstrom.
During his investigation of Adam's disappearance, Mike visits Widowmaker, a second-rate, neglected ski resort. It has a tragic history. He meets more unusual characters. Always hanging around the bar are three influential, eccentric men who call themselves "The Night Watchmen". Elderly men sometimes give themselves an aura of mystery in order to appear more important than they actually are. However, these men exude true malice. Also, there is a young gentleman, Logan Dyer, who reminds me of Mike. Logan lives in the shadow of his father, Scott Dyer, who was blamed for the deadly chair lift accident at Widowmaker.
Mike is dating wildlife-biologist Stacey Stevens from afar. She is in the wilderness investigating a plague that is killing moose. Tragedy strikes Stacey and her team of coworkers, turning Mike's world upside down. Widowmaker is fast-paced with numerous tragic events. There is a bloody massacre near the novel's end that guarantees it will have a high body count--the highest body count in the Mike Bowditch series. Mike himself escapes death on several occasions. This assignment is going to leave him permanently scarred, physically and emotionally.
My favorite moments in the novel are when Mike is interacting with Shadow, the wolf hybrid that was confiscated from the drug addicts. Afraid that Shadow might be euthanized, Mike searches for a family to adopt him. Will the lonely Mike adopt him? Mike doesn't have a pet of his own. Neither do I. I once house-sat for a young couple who owned a gorgeous, lovable wolf hybrid, Timber. I took him for walks in their crime-infested neighborhood; Timber made me feel safe because he was extremely large. However, friends warned me that wolf hybrids can suddenly become vicious without any warning.
Thus far, Widowmaker is Paul Doiron's bloodiest, most poignant, most bizarre installment in the Mike Bowditch series. I wouldn't describe it as gory; the story is told from Mike's point of view and most of the violence is not witnessed directly by him. Perhaps the goriest part is when a corpse is dragged out of the river. The novel, however, is very emotional. I felt like crying several times. My only complaint with the plot is that it lacks closure. A criminal is arrested, but this person is merely the hands of a much larger, more dangerous beast. Perhaps this beast will be punished in the next installment of the superlative Mike Bowditch series.