I usually despise the term "thriller" when applied to novels, but The Poacher's Son* really did thrill me, so in this case it fits. Paul Doiran's debut novel tells the story of Mike Bowditch, a wet-behind-the-ears Maine game warden whose world is turned upside down when his estranged father, a known poacher and generally rough guy, is accused of the murder of two men, one of whom is a sheriff's deputy. Mike's emotions clash, as his role as a son and that as a law enforcement officer are at odds. The story wends its way through the woods of Maine until it reaches an astounding ending that you'll swear you didn't see coming.
As a lifelong Mainer, I can vouch for the absolute authenticity of Doiran's portrayal of the Pine Tree State, its residents, and its rural culture in The Poacher's Son. He casts an unblinking eye on the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's not all lighthouses and lobsters after all. His characters are as real as real can get, and reminded me of people I have actually known in Maine. The plot is smart, fast-moving, and completely believable. The ending blindsided me, and still has me shaking my head in disbelief.
It's not often that I read a book that I can't tear myself away from, but The Poacher's Son was one of those books. I highly recommend it! I have since read Doiran's sequel, also featuring Mike Bowditch, entitled Trespasser*, which is every bit as good as The Poacher's Son. The third Mike Bowditch novel, Bad Little Falls*, was released a few weeks ago, and my copy is already waiting for me to stay up late with it, just as I did the first two in the series.
*The links provided will take you to Amazon.com's sites for each of Paul Doiran's novels, though they are widely available through almost any book retailer.