Massacre Pond: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Series #4) by Paul Doiron (St. Martin’s Press, $15.99, 336 pages)
Paul Doiron’s fourth novel Massacre Pond continues the Mike Bowditch saga. Bowditch is a game warden in Maine who struggles with his internal demons mostly attributed to his rebel father, a poacher and key figure in the introduction to the series in Doiron’s debut novel, The Poacher’s Son.
This reviewer had not read any of the author’s previous books. Upon researching his preceding works, it became clear that readers’ thoughts on them are decidedly mixed. This book is of fine quality, meaning that either earlier commentaries are off base or Doiron has matured into being a solid storyteller.
In Massacre Pond, Bowditch is called to investigate the slaughter of seven moose on private property, which is intended to become a wildlife sanctuary in the midst of a logging community. The idea of a sanctuary angers many natives, as outsider and conservationist Elizabeth Moore is perceived as an arrogant do-gooder throwing her money around at the expense of jobs for the locals. Owners of the local mill are less than thrilled with Moore’s presence.
A dull but good-hearted caretaker of the Morse property, Billy Cronk, is central to the initial events and eventual climax of the story – entangled in a web of power and money, although his motives are as pure as any of the book’s myriad of characters.
Bowditch is somewhat self-absorbed but is genuine enough to be likable. And this is part of the attraction of the story. The characters are all just complicated enough to provide a touch of reality to the tale; part of a genre in which plot is typically everything and depth and complexity of characters is provided short shrift.
Bowditch appears to be more of a cop than a game warden. If there are lines of division in real life, they are not evident in the telling of this story. The ending is an obvious – bordering on cheesy, lead-in to the next book in the series. However, overall, this novel, in and of itself, is a solid one. Doiron’s writing and storytelling surpass many similar attempts at crime/suspense/mystery/intrigue. So, without respect to what may have led up to this novel or what may come next, Massacre Pond is worth the read.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Mr. Moyer is an educator and the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.
You can read a review of Trespasser: A Novel by Paul Doiron here: