The Bone Orchard: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron

The Bone OrchardReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

While Mike Bowditch is more contented working as a fishing guide than he has been in years, every so often something comes along that makes him second guess his choice to leave the his former position as a game warden. It’s the little encounters that cause him to look back-like the two guys he runs across camping illegally on the island while out with a boat full of clients. What he wants to do is nail their sorry selves, but with his clients on board, the most he can do is call the current game warden and report them. While it is irksome to not be able to take the campers on first hand, it is beyond frustrating to be reminded that he is no longer in the service and the current game warden will get to the campers when and if he has time. Still in all, he’s content with his choice to leave his job. However, when his former partner, Kathy Frost, shoots a veteran in a “suicide by cop” situation and is later attacked in her own home as a result, Bowditch cannot stay away.

The Bone Orchard is an interesting entry in the Mike Bowditch series. While servicing as a game warden, Bowditch had a great deal of trouble staying within the accepted rules and policies of the service. As a fishing guide-a job he seems born to have, he is his own boss and gets to spend as much or as little time as he wants working. And yet, there is the constant tug of the life he left. What makes Bowditch a good fishing guide-his love and understanding of the Maine backwoods plus his natural instincts to read danger in a situation, are also what made him a great game warden. While he may have left the warden service his instincts are alive and on full alert when Kathy Frost is shot. He soon realizes that the official investigation may not be headed in the right direction and when he can’t get the authorities to listen he takes matters into his own hands.

Once again, Doiron has nearly made the backwoods of Maine a character in his book. As readers follow Bowditch on the hunt for Kathy’s attacker, we can see, hear and almost smell our surroundings. The lonely backwoods setting is the perfect backdrop for Bowditch as he searches the North Woods looking for the solution to Kathy’s attack and is forced to confront the decision he made to leave the service. This is certainly a pivotal book in the series. I think it is the best Mike Bowditch book yet.

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