I feel as if author Paul Doiron is my personal discovery, but of course that’s ridiculous. I read his first book, The Poacher’s Son, right after it came out and recommended him to several friends and mystery fans. I immediately fell in love the main character, Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch, his dysfunctional family struggles, and the wild setting of rural Maine. Unfortunately, few of his subsequent novels left me wondering if he had lost his voice. The natural beauty of the setting and the life-like characters of backwoods Maine were lost to a more sensational plot line. His newest novel, however, felt more like the writer who won this reader over in the first place. In Widow-maker, Mike Bowditch runs into a woman who claims her missing son is Mike’s half-brother by his hard-drinking, womanizing father. And she wants Mike’s help to find him. Despite his desire to forget his past, Mike can’t resist uncovering the truth, but the truth comes with ugly ghosts from his past, the rescue of a wolf-dog, a near death experience, and a trip to a colony for sexual predators. In this novel Doiron returns to the story of Bowditch’s troubled relationship with his father and spent considerable time exploring his legacy as an outsider, which added depth to the story. I was terribly disappointed with the ending, however. It felt abrupt with many unresolved plot points, almost as if he had hit some page count and decided to just wrap it up in the most expedient (and easy) way possible. Just the same, an entertaining read from an author who has the ability to create life-like characters.
Tag Archives: ghosts
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman won the John Newbery Medal for its contribution to American literature for children, yet the book opens with the description of a man with a very large, sharp knife systematically killing every member of a family as they sleep, save for the smallest toddler. I was surprised and a bit creeped out by this opening scene, especially since the book is billed as a middle grade novel. Fear not, dear reader, the story gets much better! The delightful, fanciful and fun story begins when the toddler escapes and wanders into an old cemetery. There, he is adopted by two childless ghosts, the Owens, and is put under the protection of a mysterious guardian, Silas, who is neither dead nor alive . The toddler is given the name Nobody–Bod for short–and the protection of the graveyard, as long as he never leaves its enclosures. The fun of the novel is in the tales of his adventures, being taught by ghosts who range from an ancient Roman general to a woman killed for witchcraft. Bod learns ghostly skills, such as fading, and dream walking, and the ability to open a ghoul gate…but he eventually longs to be with other people like him, people who are alive. But Bod has been warned by his guardian that the man who killed his family is still out there, and still looking for him. This tale of good versus evil with a clever twist of characters (a good vampire and werewolf) never fails to amuse and entertain. The author, Neil Gaiman, is a master of fantasy and imagination–think J.K. Rowling meets Tim Burton. The suspense and fun never flags as we watch Bod grow up amongst his most unusual companions, and tackle the greatest challenge of his life. The graveyard story was written for kids, but I enjoyed every minute of it. For an extra treat, listen to the book on tape. When I saw that it was recorded by the author, I thought, “Uh-oh” as often times authors are not the best readers of their own works, but in this case Gaiman is perfect. He has a voice not unlike Alan Rickman (think Snape) and voices the characters with feeling and style.