Knife Creek by Paul Doiron is the 8th book in the Mike Bowditch Mystery series.
Mike Bowditch works for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife along with his partner, Stacy. They could both do with some changes in their lives, as there are a few demons flying around that are holding them back. However, there is little time to dwell on issues from the past as they are hunting feral pigs as part of their official duties for the department. The wild boar’s population spiked into the millions down south, and now they are heading north where they are very unwelcome.
It is dangerous work—wild boars are heavy, quick, agile, and very fierce, with tusks you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of. Though neither Bowditch nor Stacy have ever shot a wild boar before, there is a first time for everything. While looking down the sight of his AR-15 at two menacing adult boars, they both drop dead—but he never fired a shot. Stacy killed them both, which is unlike her. But Stacy has not been herself lately.
Before they can discuss it further, they make a horrendous discovery in the mud of Knife Creek, setting off a full murder inquiry. It links to a missing persons case from four years ago, and Bowditch sets on the trail to find a killer who has evaded justice for so long. He puts a lot of noses out of joint with his involvement, as none of this is officially within his range of duties. But he doesn’t care—what he found in the mud of Knife Creek has seriously upset him, and he is determined to get to the bottom of the dark dealings.
The game warden’s refusal to step back from the investigation starts an explosive trail of intrigue.
I advanced to the kitchen for a closer look. As I did, the smell of the swamp grew stronger. That made no sense; I hadn’t detected a foul odor last night. Why should the place suddenly be giving off a reek like a henhouse full of rotten eggs?
A vehicle came rumbling down the road. I turned my head and recognized the smoky-blue shape of Tate’s Ford Interceptor. I heard the door slam. Even heard her swear aloud. She knew I hadn’t waited. She knew I had made my way alone up to the house.
I opened the storm door, but the inner door was locked tight. I pressed my ear to the inset window.
What do I hear?
All at once I understood. The noxious odor, the shut windows, the hissing coming from the kitchen.
I leaped down the stairs and sprinted toward the drive. Tate was striding squarely toward me with a scowl. “You couldn’t have waited?”
“Get back, Dani!” I waved my arms above my head like a madman.
“We need to get back!”
She raised her hands in confusion.
“What are you talking about?”
Seconds later the house exploded in a giant fireball behind us.
Paul Doiron has written an extremely atmospheric thriller. You can hear the water dripping off the branches and feel the heat causing steam to rise off the roads as summer closes in and the net tightens on the perpetrator of past and present crimes.
The missing person haunts more people than just the immediate family. Maine State Police Detective Antonio Menario becomes obsessed with finding the presumed dead person’s body and bringing the person he believes is responsible to justice. The obsession is killing him and his reputation, but intuition isn’t evidence. He holds a lot of anger and resentment towards Bowditch, who doesn’t share Menario’s narrow and fixed view of what may have happened and who could be responsible.
Though not obsessed, Mike Bowditch is definitely focused on the case. He brings a clear head to the mystery, which continues to alienate those who have made up their minds about what transpired. As the story develops, he goes from being the hunter to the hunted as the prey will not stand idly by as the net tightens around them.
Doiron has an ability to draw you in to the story with an atmospheric prose and well-rounded characters who work well together. Retribution and justice is eventually served, and to more people than expect it. You won’t see the ending looming in this fine and well-balanced thriller.
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.