Paul Doiron is an awesome story teller, and no more so than in his new novel, Widow-Maker. And all of his novels have a bit more interest for those of us who love the outdoors, because his main character, Mike Bowditch, is a Maine game warden.
Somehow Paul, former editor of Down East magazine, has mastered the art of dialogue. And it is an art form. Great dialogue makes his stories race by, and his plots keep you up at night. Well, most of the time. I was nearing the end of Widow-Maker while Linda and I were at our camp in the north woods, when she said, “You know, it’s 10 pm.”
Yikes! I usually go to be at 8:30. But I only had 40 pages to go in the novel, and boy, it was a tough decision to set the book down and go to bed. But I did, and what a great way to finish the book, with my morning coffee, looking out the camp window at Sourdnahunk Lake and a beautiful sunny day.
There is nothing beautiful or sunny about Mike Bowditch’s situation in Widow-Maker. Paul does a good job of exploring the characters in his books, and this one is loaded with bad guys – really bad guys. Bowditch’s situation in this novel is not typical game warden stuff, but there is enough game warden stuff to give you a sense of what’s going on in the Warden Service.
Given the current controversy over Warden Service undercover tactics, I thought this paragraph in the novel, from Bowditch, was very interesting: “Jeff White reminded me of Tommy Volk and some of the other wardens I knew who believed in a code of rough justice they’d picked up from watching Westerns. I had been a history major, and I had read once that the Old West depicted on-screen bore no resemblance to the reality of the era, when men voluntarily surrendered their six-shooters before going into saloons and when bank heists were rare enough to count on two hands. Men like White and Volk preferred the myths, since they validated their own violent preconceptions.”
I know it’s a cliché to say you’ll have trouble putting this novel down, but that’s the case, even when bedtime approaches!