Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron

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Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: An argument about whether a parcel of land should become a wildlife reserves spills over when several moose are massacred in a seemingly nonsensical manner. Can Warder Mike Bowditch discover the culprit before things get worse and the crimes even more violent? Join Bowditch on a crime thriller that also questions what is best for nature.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781472114655

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What is best for the great outdoors? Is leaving it to nature is the most sustainable option or does hunting help to protect the ecosystem? Each group has opposing viewpoints and are unlikely to reach common ground, therefore someone is going to have to stand between the two of them and make sure nothing bad happens. Something like murder.

There is such a sense of place in Massacre Pond that you are instantly transported to Maine. You can almost smell the pines as Warder Mike Bowditch sets out on his patrol. It is testament to Paul Doiron’s writing skills that the book starts at a very languid pace and you don’t mind. Just being out in the fresh air feels good (just don’t stop and notice you are reading this in a packed and sweaty underground). For a book that purports to be a murder mystery, there is far less human death than you would think. Arguably the biggest crime in the book is one against nature.

Bowditch enters the story after being summoned to a crime on the grounds of Elizabeth Moore. This happens to be one of the richest people in Maine who made her money selling herbal remedies and has now bought vast sections of countryside in the hopes of creating a wildlife park. For the locals that live off that land, she is not well loved. In fact, they loath her so much that someone entered her land and shot dead several moose for no other reason than spite. The death of these moose leads Bowditch into the murky world of politics and more worryingly, the world of murder.

The majority of this book is about the death of these animals and the increase in tension between Moore and the locals. Someone looking for a straight whodunit will not find it here as Massacre Pond takes its time in the telling. Intermingled with the story is a very interesting argument about what is best for nature; man management or self-sufficiency. Doiron has deftly written an environmental thriller in the guise of a murder mystery. Both sides of the argument are explored; that of the environmentalists who want what is best for the animals, but also the hunters whose livelihood depends on access to the woods. Why is Moore choosing animals over humans?

It is this subtext that lifts the book, as the mystery element does not quite hold up. There is some good action towards the end, but the conclusion is a little messy and confused. What was a simply told story about the illegal killing of wildlife unravels, but in an enjoyable way. I also felt that the character of Bowditch was a little confusing, he is relatively young, but seems to have the posture and worries of a far older man. This is the fourth outing for Bowditch and it could just be that Doiron is planning to write about him for many years to come and does not want the character to age into retirement too soon. I would imagine that by book 10 the internal and the external of Bowditch would start to match.

For a book that sells itself on terms like massacre and murder, it is these elements that are amongst the weakest. The crime inflicted upon the wildlife is far more interesting and compels you to keep reading. Just following Bowditch on his daily work schedule was a joy; it almost seemed a shame to disrupt that with death. Doiron is a very good writer and his knowledge of Maine is fantastic; Massacre Pond is a very good read, but would have been a must read if the crime element had concluded more strongly.

More compelling crime fiction can be found in The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen. John Connolly is a fan of this author so why not try his book The Reapers by John Connolly?

Buy Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron at Amazon.com.

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