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Wednesday 13 February 2013

‘The Poachers Son’ by Paul Doiron

Published by Robinson, 
17 January 2013. 
ISBN: 978-1-78033-815-6

Here it is, still only January, and already I feel I've read one of the very best crime novels of the year. THE POACHER'S SON is the first in a series (at least one more is out there somewhere, with more to follow) set in the vanishing rural beauty of north-west Maine. I can't see how award-winning Doiron (himself a registered Game Warden) can hope to surpass this excellent novel in a subsequent one.

The plot hinges on the events following the evening when Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden, learns that his Vietnam-damaged father, Jack, stands accused of murdering two men, one of them another Warden. Despite a dysfunctional upbringing, in his father's harsh 'care', Mike knows that there is no way his dad could have murdered anyone. Drunk, dissolute and irresponsible Jack may be, but Mike knows he's not a killer. Jack goes on the run in the backwoods and at the risk of losing the job he loves, Mike disobeys his superiors' orders to leave the matter alone, and sets out track down his sorry excuse for a father, in order to prove the man's
innocence and clear his name. The story moves forward in what at first seems to be a fairly conventional manner, but gradually, as more information is disclosed, the tension ratchets up and up. In the rural communities Doiron is so eloquently describing, where moose and bear and deer roam freely, not only does everyone have a gun but they are also prepared to use it. I can promise you that the ending is a surprise.

I loved this book. I loved Doiron's lyrical descriptions of the natural beauty of the wilderness, of forests and lakes, bogs and hills. Above and beyond the plot is the ever-present sense that this idyll is about to be lost forever by the greed of the logging companies who are threatening to destroy it. I loved, too, the subtle delineation of the relationship between Jack and Mike, the exasperated affection with which son views father and his longing for his dad's love, and the very different father-figure presented by Charley Stevens and his wife Ora. I loved the beautifully-rounded figures who move through this book, each character, even the peripheral ones, perfectly realised, so that you would recognise them immediately were you to meet them.

I am now Doiron's Number One fan, and will be getting hold of the second – and third – books in this series as soon as I can.
Reviewer: Susan Moody
Paul Doiron is a native of Maine, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He is the author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels, including The Poacher's Son, which won the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and the Maine Literary Award for "Best Fiction of 2010. His second book in the Mike Bowditch series, Trespasser, won the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction, was an American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller and has been called a "masterpiece of high-octane narrative" by Booklist. His third novel in the series, Bad Little Falls, will be published on August 7.  He is the editor in chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, Down East Books, and He is a former member of the Maine Arts Commission and a current member of the Maine Humanities Council. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing and outdoor recreation and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine.
Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume  of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark.  In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.


  1. Wonderful review, Susan! Thank you! And his other books are even better. (Full disclosure: I'm Paul's wife, but I do read a LOT of suspense novels.) One little thing, though: that's not a photo of Paul (or, at least, not the Paul Doiron who wrote these books).

    1. Hi Kristen
      Is that better? Please let me know That I have the right picture now, or email the correct one to

    2. That's my handsome husband! Thank you so much, Lizzie!

    3. Have to agree Kristen, he is a nice looking chap:-)

  2. Hi Kristen
    Is that better? Please let me know That I have the right picture now, or email the correct one to