Bad Little Falls is the third book in Paul Doiron's Mike Bowditch series, but a first read of this author for me.
Bowditch is a game warden. He's been sent to a remote outpost in Maine by his superiors for past transgressions. And it's mighty cold in Maine in the winter. One of his first call outs is for a man missing in a snowstorm. His friend made it to the house of a local couple, but the other man is still out there. When that man is found dead by means other than the weather, it becomes a murder investigation. And the dead man - he's a known drug dealer.
The weather is cold and so is the welcome from the locals for Mike. Someone nails a dead coyote skin to his door and his superior officer makes light of it. He seems to be butting heads with nearly everyone in town - a renowned wilderness expert, the local sheriff, local trappers and more. The one person who doesn't seem to hate him is Jamie Sewall - MacDonald's employee of the month, a single mom to a strange little boy and a woman with lots of ties to the murder investigation.
Doiron has written an entertaining if not overly involved mystery. There are lots of red herrings and possible suspects. I did find myself wondering at a game warden's seeming over involvement in a murder investigation. I enjoyed the actual references to game warden activity (the frozen zebra was a great story), but there weren't that many. I follow another series featuring a game warden who is a little older, a little more established and a little wiser. I found Bowditch's decision to become romantically involved with Jamie Sewell somewhat rash, hurried and unbelievable. And one sided as well - we never really hear from Jamie herself. He's been exiled to Maine by his superiors because of his impulsiveness and bad judgement, but it really doesn't seem to have sunk in, although he mentions needing to change several times.
Doiron is a native of Maine and his descriptions of the land and the locale have that extra ring of authenticity.
I chose to listen to Bad Little Falls. Henry Leyva was the reader. He's got a well modulated voice that is easily understood. His voices for the characters were well done and easy to differentiate. The voices that required accents - many Maine characters and his French Canadian boss - were believable. The voice of the young boy reading his journal was definitely creepy. Mike is a younger character and the voice for Mike seemed to fit the mental image I'd come up with.
The jury's still out for me on this character. Doiron received numerous awards and nominations for the first two books in this series. I think I would have a better appreciation for this character if I had read those The Poacher's Son and Trespasser first. The ending was a bit unsatisfying, but there are two future books planned for Mike. But, I'd try this author again to see where Mike goes from here.
Read an excerpt of Bad Little Falls. You can find Paul Doiron on Facebook and on Twitter.