Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | June 23, 2011

Review: `Trespasser’ Filled With Twists And Turns

“Trespasser” (Minotaur Books), by Paul Doiron: When a young woman hits a deer with her car on a lonely coast road in Maine, Mike Bowditch, a 25-year-old game warden, gets the call. But when he arrives at the scene, he finds only a car with a smashed front end. Both the woman and the carcass are gone.

The woman probably called a friend to pick her up, Mike figures. Or maybe she lives in one of the fancy waterfront cottages nearby and decided to walk home. As for the deer, it was probably scooped up by one of the many poachers who live nearby.

As he drives away from the scene, however, Mike cannot shake the gut feeling that something is amiss.

“Trespasser” is the second novel by Paul Doiron, editor of Down East Magazine. The first, “The Poacher’s Son,” which also featured Bowditch, was an Edgar Award nominee for best first novel of 2010.

As the story opens, Mike and his live-in girlfriend, Sarah, are still trying to put their lives back together after the madness of the first novel, when Mike tried to prove that his violent, alcoholic father wasn’t a murderer — and was proven wrong.

When the missing girl turns up raped and asphyxiated in a nearby mansion, Mike wonders if he might have been able to save her if he’d listened to his gut.

The murder scene resembles another from seven years ago, when another young woman was raped and murdered, and a young Maine lobsterman was sent to prison for the crime. The convict’s relatives, who are convinced he was framed, think the new case means they were right. They ask for Mike’s help. The state’s law enforcement establishment orders Mike to butt out.

But of course, he doesn’t.

Mike’s renegade investigation, and his not-so-routine work as a game warden, drag him and the reader though the extremes of Maine society: the poachers and meth cookers, the jerks who tear up the wilderness with all-terrain vehicles, the rich who vacation on the coastline and look down their noses at the locals, the tar paper shacks, the rusting mobile homes, the waterfront mansions, and even a vicious pit bull named Nancy.

Doiron’s plot is heart-pounding, filled with startling twists and turns. The main characters, some lovable and others despicable, are all multidimensional. And the stylish prose is pitch-perfect, especially in its evocative descriptions of the beauty, and occasionally the ugliness, of coastal Maine in early spring.

The story’s slam-bang ending leaves Mike’s life in tatters, and the reader anxious to know what the author has in store for him next.


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