Award winning, mystery author, Paul Doiron, returns with his third book featuring Maine game warden, Mike Bowditch. In Bad Little Falls, Bowditch’s affinity for murder investigations beyond the scope of his authority thrives.
The Warden Service reassigned Bowditch from mid-coast Maine to Bad Little Falls, in the hinterlands of Washington County, near the Canadian border. Bowditch knows his routine conflicts with administration and rogue professional behavior accounted for his transfer during the harsh winter month of February.
Jamie Seawall is a divorced, Employee of the Month at the local McDonald’s, whose pulchritude attracts Bowditch soon after his arrival. He and college sweetheart, Sarah, ended their relationship last summer. Tensions between the couple mounted, as Bowditch habitually chose his career over Sarah. Concealing her pregnancy until she miscarried didn’t help their situation.
Seawall sports her own baggage, including a drug and alcohol addiction, and a penchant for attracting toxically, romantic relationships. Her latest ex-boyfriend is Randall Cates, a known drug dealer. “That’s the thing about drugs. Once you start using, you’ll do anything to stay high, even convince yourself you love the man who’s giving the drugs to you,” she says.
Cates is believed to be responsible for the death of Trinity Raye. Last year he sold the seventeen-year-old Whitney High School student tainted Heroin; and she overdosed. Authorities haven’t been able to connect Cates to the crime. John (Prester) Seawall is Jamie’s brother, and Cates’s right-hand man.
The Heath is a trackless wasteland where Cates and Seawall commonly deal drugs. During a particularly brutal snowstorm, Seawall stumbles upon the home of Ben and Doris Sprague, frostbitten and near death. He manages to tell the couple that his friend is clinging to life out in the blizzard.
Doc Larrabee, a friend of the Sprague’s and recent acquaintance to Bowditch, asks him to aid in the search for the endangered, missing man.
Setting out on one of the Sprague’s snowmobiles, Bowditch discovers Cates near the Heath, frozen to death. An autopsy reveals he suffered a cracked sternum before expiring, transforming his death into a murder investigation.
Once again, Bowditch finds himself in pursuit of a killer, defying the authorities’ warning to stay clear. Doiron adds a surprise element that could be considered the catalyst for the story’s deadly chain of events.
Lucas is Jamie Seawall’s odd and troubled twelve-year-old son. He keeps notebook diaries with disturbing pictures on the cover, including vampire women and owls with bloodstained beaks; and takes a liking to Bowditch.
Some people in Washington County despise Bowditch’s arrival as game warden. Joe Brogan operates the Call of the Wild Guide Service and Game Ranch. It’s a legally enclosed ranch that stocks up on exotic creatures, allowing hunters to pay good money to shoot the land-restrained animals. The concept irks Bowditch; and he and Brogan become archenemies.
Returning home one day to his rented trailer, Bowditch finds a coyote pelt nailed to his door, accompanied by a threatening note signed by “George Magoon.” Magoon was a legendary Maine poacher in the 1880s that often threatened area game wardens.
Soon after the coyote pelt incident, Bowditch discovers a skunk inside his trailer, let in through a deliberately broken window. Are these two incidents the work of one villain?
Bowditch rekindles his friendship with legendary warden pilot, Charley Stevens. He and his wife, Ora now live a simple hour’s distance from Bowditch’s new jurisdiction. Stevens helped Bowditch locate his father on Rum Pond, in Doiron’s debut, The Poacher’s Son; and assisted with the Ashley Kim murder investigation in Trespasser.
Doiron is a Registered Maine Guide, empowering him with the ability to describe the state’s wildlife and terrain with vivid detail. “I was traveling through a landscape as sharp as a black-and-white photograph. The greens of the pines looked black. The shadows beyond my headlights were gray. The only brightness was the white of the blowing snow.”
Each book Doiron releases expands his audience and accolodes. If you enjoy discovering gifted authors during their nascent careers, add him to your list.
While each story stands alone in Doiron’s current triad of books, consider reading his previous two before diving into Bad Little Falls. It will help you conjoin the narratives and fully appreciate his talents.
If you enjoy reading crime fiction, check out Bouchercon 2012. It’s the annual conference dedicated to crime fiction authors and readers. This year’s event convenes in Cleveland, Ohio, October 4-7; and reads like a Who’s Who of presenters. To find out more, visit: http://bouchercon2012.com.