‘Massacre Pond’ is the fourth installment in Mr. Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series. He has become one of my go-to authors when I’m looking for a well-constructed entertaining mystery. It is not necessary to read the previous three works (The Poacher’s Son, Trespasser, Bad Little Falls) but you will miss out on some of Bowditch’s interesting background. The game warden is a wonderful character in which you find yourself rooting for him even when he messes up.
‘Massacre Pond’ begins with the mysterious slaughter of moose on a rich woman’s private land. I have lived in Maine my entire life. It was easy to spot that the fictional Elizabeth Morse, her business, and desire to donate a sizeable chunk of her land to the federal government so it would hopefully be turned into a national park somewhat mimic our state’s Roxanne Quimby the co-owner of Burt’s Bees. Ms. Morse’s actions also echo the response by rural Mainers about Ms. Quimby’s intentions. Her receiving death threats were not uncommon. Mr. Doiron states in the Author’s Note at the back of the book that he “… never met (Roxanne Quimby) and who is not the model for “Queen Elizabeth” Morse.” Be that as it may, the similarities added for me another level of believability to ‘Massacre Pond.’ Beyond the mystery is a good story about doing what’s right and doing what’s political expedient. One of Bowditch’s antagonists is his career-focused supervisor Marc Rivard. The unlikable Lt. Rivard seems like a textbook case of the Peter Principle. Complicating matters even more is that Bowditch’s relationship with his peers is one of mutual misgivings. Add to that a case of the 26-year-old warden’s unreciprocated love as well as a guilt-ridden relationship with his mom and you’re in for a believable introspective mystery. Like life, the story is covered in some moral grey areas and a few loose ends.
What I find especially enjoyable about the series is that, I feel, Mr. Doiron gets the whole Maine scene right. I grew up in the rural paper mill town of Madawaska, Maine and can relate to the concerns and actions of the people who inhabit the author’s world. Mr. Doiron also includes a few colorful “eccentric” characters such as Chubby LeClair, Karl Khristian, and Billy Cronk. There is a light touch of humor at certain points. Like the more famous Maine authors, Stephen King and Richard Russo, Mr. Doiron’s attention to details and good character development are what make ‘Massacre Pond’ such an enjoyable read. I’m hooked.