Twenty-five-year-old Mike Bowditch is a passionate Maine state game warden. It’s been seven months since the ordeal with his father, Jack Bowditch at Rum Pond (consider reading Doiron’s award-nominated debut novel, The Poacher’s Son as a preface to Trespasser).
Bowditch responds to a dispatcher’s call to investigate a deer/car collision on Parker Point Road. He arrives to find a damaged, red, rental sedan, and deer bloodstains in the middle of the road, but no driver, no deer.
What happened to the driver and the deer? Who anonymously alerted the authorities from the pay phone at Smitty’s Garage two miles away about the accident?
The rental car agreement found in the glove compartment indicates the current driver as Ashley Kim, 23, from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
State trooper, Curt Hutchins arrives at the scene soon after Bowditch. He assures him that he’ll continue pursuit of Kim, now that it’s a state police matter. Bowditch is skeptical. Something’s not right and Bowditch knows it.
Bowditch is compelled to do his own investigation of Ashley Kim’s disappearance. He entails the help of town clerk, MaryBeth Fickett and legendary, retired warden pilot, Charley Stevens. Stevens befriended Bowditch during his search for his father.
Fickett discovers that Hans Westergaard owns a summer home not far from the accident site. Westergaard is also from Cambridge, Massachusetts and a Harvard Business School professor. The Kim/Westergaard connection is too close to ignore. Bowditch calls Westergaard’s wife, Jill, and learns that Kim was her husband’s research assistant. She informs him too, that Hans left for a conference the day before and hasn’t been heard from since.
Bowditch and Stevens explore the capacious, oceanfront Westergaard home where they discover the mutilated corpse of Ashley Kim. The killer had carved the word SLUT on her body. With no sign of Westergaard, early suspicions focus on a romantic liaison between the two gone sour.
Seven years ago, Earland Jefferts, an affable, handsome, former lobsterman, was convicted of murdering twenty-year old, Nikki Donatelli. The crime occurred on a hot July night after drinking and seduction at the Harpoon Bar. Interestingly, Bowditch learns that Donatelli’s body also had the word SLUT carved into her body.
The J-Team, led by Jeffert’s aunt, Lou Bates, is determined to win him a new trial; convinced the prosecution did a botched job of presenting the evidence. They approach Bowditch about joining their mission. He initially declines. But, given the similarities between the Kim/Donatelli murders, he finds himself drawn into investigating Jeffert’s conviction.
Danica Marshall is the Assistant Attorney General who helped prosecute Earland Jefferts. Often referred to as a “courthouse sex symbol,” and “Black Widow,” she warns Bowditch to stop investigating Ashley Kim’s death, and revisiting the details of Jeffert’s conviction.
The Square Deal Diner is the town’s gossip hub. Upon entering, Bowditch has been the topic of conversation, both during his father’s disappearance and Ashley Kim’s murder.
Adventure accentuates Trespasser, as Bowditch engages in a death-defying ATV chase on an ice-filled, snow-driven night to lure local Calvin Barter. Bowditch is sure he’s the culprit whose ATV tracks have been ruining neighbor, Hank Varnum’s property: ” I shifted into a lower gear and gassed it, aiming for as much momentum as possible and hoping to hell my wheels didn’t lose traction on the icy surface.”
Bowditch met his live-in girlfriend, Sarah, during college. Despite her affluent upbringing, she was attracted to his raw, love for the outdoors. “She recognized something feral underneath my clean-cut exterior, and like many good girls from proper families, she was aroused by the scent of danger.”
His affinity for danger, both during the search for his father and now in the Ashley Kim murder investigation, have take its toll on their relationship. Her tolerance for his availability, both physically and emotionally, have peaked, especially now that she’s secretly pregnant.
Well-written fiction mirrors reality, often presenting insightful dialogue. One of the best lines in Trespasser worth contemplating is “You never really know someone until they’re no longer in your life.”
If you enjoy reading crime fiction, you’ll appreciate Doiron’s newish voice. It’s one that’s sure to become more recognizable over time.
The 2012 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, October 4-7. To learn more about this gathering of some of the world’s best crime fiction writers, visit: http://bouchercon2012.com/