By Paul Doiron


One of Booklist's Best Crime Novels of 2010


Publishers Weekly (starred review):

Down East editor-in-chief Doiron takes a provocative look at the ties between fathers and sons, unconditional love, and Maine’s changing landscape in his outstanding debut. Game warden Mike Bowditch, who hasn’t heard from his dad, Jack Bowditch, in two years, wonders what the man wants from him after he comes home late one night and finds Jack has left a cryptic message on his answering machine. Mike later learns Jack is the prime suspect in the shooting murders of a cop and a timber company executive. Jack, a brutal alcoholic, makes his living poaching game, but Mike can’t believe Jack is a cold-blooded killer. Mike’s belief in his father puts his job at risk, alienates him from the police, and drives him further away from the woman he loves. Fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr will appreciate the vivid wilderness scenes. Equally a story of relationships and an outdoor adventure, this evocative thriller is sure to put Doiron on several 2010 must-read lists.


Library Journal (starred review):

A richly imagined portrait of the vanishing wilderness in New England's farthest reaches, Doiron's (editor in chief, Down East: The Magazine of Maine) well-written debut is also a taut thriller and a thoughtful examination of the complicated relationship between father and son. Of a piece with Castle Freeman Jr.'s All That I Have about a Vermont sheriff, this will also appeal to fans of C.J. Box's Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett.


Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

A Maine Game Warden fights to clear his no-account father of murder charges in this deeply felt actioner.

Even before his parents divorced, Mike Bowditch wasn't close to his father, and after the breakup, when Jack Bowditch descended into a swamp of womanizing and drinking, Mike had less and less to do with him. Since the last time he saw his father two years ago, he's become a Game Warden-a slap in the face to both his poacher father and his girlfriend, Sarah Harris, who left Mike when she realized he was never going to go to law school. Now Jack's back in Mike's life with a vengeance. Someone has shot Jonathan Shipman, the spokesman for the deeply unpopular corporate purchaser of a 100-year-old campground that's obviously planning to shove the current residents aside in the name of development, and Bill Brodeur, the deputy who was guarding him. Det. Wayne Soctomah is convinced that Jack was the shooter. So is almost everyone else in Somerset County except for Mike and his mother, Marie Turner. Scorning Marie and her secondhusband, attorney Neil Turner, who go into hiding to avoid Jack, Mike vows to do whatever he can to vindicate the father who's been phoning him for help. His decision leads to a series of disastrously self-destructive actions that Doiron makes perfectly credible, all interspersed with a series of flashbacks to Mike's childhood that are both tender and chilling.

C.J. Box goes East. Like Box, Doiron will have his hands full trying to top his accomplished debut.


Booklist (starred review):

Doiron’s debut crime novel is set on the coast and in the North Woods of Maine, the home of rookie game warden Mike Bowditch. As tensions rise across the state with the impending sale of huge tracts of papercompany forest land to an out-of-state developer, Mike receives a strange message from his father, left on the same night the paper company rep and a state trooper are shot and killed after a heated town meeting. Doiron, editor-in-chief of Down State magazine, is well acquainted with the current political and cultural tensions that crisscross Maine, and his local knowledge drives this fast-paced and twisty narrative. With realistically flawed characters and a strong sense of place—both on the coast and in the woods—the novel avoids tourist stereotyping, of Maine itself and its citizens. As a game warden, Mike is devoted to upholding the law, and as a conflict appears to develop between that responsibility and his love for his estranged father, he finds himself with both his job and life on the line. One hopes this fine novel is the first in a series starring Warden Bowditch, who could quickly become the East Coast version of C. J. Box’s game-warden hero Joe Pickett, who patrols the range in Wyoming.


The New York Times Book Review:

Paul Doiron is the editor in chief of Down East magazine, so it shouldn't be a total surprise that his first novel, THE POACHER'S SON, comes with stunning vistas of the dense forests and wild rivers that have impressed visitors to Maine ever since Benedict Arnold passed through on his march to Quebec in 1775. Along with nostalgic laments about the old-growth woods and modest settle ments that have already fallen to civilization, Doiron provides wonderful scenes of present-day bear-tracking and man-hunting through the kind of terrain that attracts hikers, hunters and the odd "paranoid militia freak" like the one causing so much trouble in this story.

The novel's eye-popping scenes, idyllic and otherwise, are conveyed by Doiron's narrator, Mike Bowditch, a rookie game warden who loves the "solitary and morbid profession" that is threatened when his father, Jack, a notorious poacher, is accused of murder. "He was a bar brawler, not a terrorist," Mike insists, swearing loyalty to a man who may not be worth his son's faith in him. Jack is still a flamboyant character, one of the best sights in a book that has plenty of natural wonders.


The Globe and Mail:

This is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. Doiron, a licensed wilderness guide and editor-in-chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, has put unforgettable characters into a gorgeous setting and does it all with a lovely, liquid prose style that I found irresistible. The setting is, of course, Maine, and the central character is game warden Mike Bowditch, who arrives home one day to a cryptic message on his answering machine. The caller is his father, whom he hasn’t seen in more than two years. The next morning, a local policeman is dead and the prime suspect is Bowditch’s father. The plotline where the investigator has to save a relative is an oldie, but Doiron’s style and setting give it new life. The secrets in Bowditch’s past, and in his father’s, have to be resolved while the game warden seeks the solution to a really enthralling mystery. Doiron is definitely a writer to watch.


Charlotte Observer:

It's an engaging story, with a flawed hero whose childhood issues overwhelm his good judgment over and over again.

The Poacher's Son is stocked with excitement and trepidation. Peering over the shoulder of Mike Bowditch as he combs through the eerie silence of the North Woods is pure nail-biting fun. Paul Doiron expertly takes hundreds of miles of largely uninhabited terrain and pares them down to a veritable base camp providing readers with easy access to both the thrill of the story and the breathtaking beauty of Maine's northern exposure. Loaded with unexpected twists, The Poacher's Son takes you to the edge and leaves you begging for more...

The author, who devoured Sherlock Holmes as a kid and Raymond Carver and Tim O'Brian as a younger man, has managed to craft a novel that lies somewhere between the two, a crime novel that encompasses the full range of human emotion. The novel is the first in a series that will follow Mike's emotional development as he grows to be the man he's meant to be. It's a fascinating character study with much promise for the future.


Nelson DeMille, author of The Gate House:

Paul Doiron’s THE POACHER'S SON is one of the best-written debut novels I’ve read in years. This story has it all -- a great plot, a wonderful Maine woods setting, and a truly remarkable and believable cast of characters.


Tess Gerritsen, author of The Keepsake:

THE POACHER'S SON is a haunting tale, and Paul Doiron is a powerful and evocative writer who poetically captures the majesty -- and the menace -- of Maine's north woods.


John Lescroart, author of Betrayal:

Paul Doiron is an accomplished and powerful new voice in suspense fiction, and THE POACHER’S SON is a gripping, original, and literate tale of love and loyalty, betrayal and redemption.  You won’t want to put it down.


Monica Wood, author of Any Bitter Thing:

In THE POACHER'S SON, a baffling double murder forces Mike Bowditch to face his complex feelings for his father and, more poignantly, his well-hidden need for a sense of family.This is a page-turning, thoroughly satisfying blend of murder mystery and family drama.  I fell in love with Mike, so I hope his creator is typing as fast as he can!


Julia Spencer Fleming, author of I Shall Not Want:

The Poacher's Son is an adventure worthy of its magnificent Maine setting.  Fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr will relish the riveting debut of the Jack Bowditch series. Paul Doiron is a spellbinding new storyteller whose literate, intelligent novel will have readers begging for more.


Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog:

With precise and evocative prose, Paul Doiron weaves a riveting tale set deep in the wilderness that can be the tenuous bond between father and son. This is a compelling, moving, and utterly impressive debut!


C.J. Box, author of Below Zero:

Paul Doiron makes the backwoods culture of Maine come vibrantly alive in this excellent debut...The Poacher's Son is a fast-paced outdoor adventure filled with murder, betrayal, and a terrific sense of place.  Welcome aboard, Mr. Doiron...


Lewis Robinson, author of Water Dogs:

Paul Doiron is a first-rate storyteller who masterfully evokes the moxie and mayhem of small-town Maine.  THE POACHER'S SON won me over instantly.