The Precipice by Paul Doiron

coverI was eager to read the Maine Game Warden mysteries by Paul Doiron, as I am a long-time fan of Nevada Barr and somewhat of a fan of CJ Box. I didn’t get around to the series until his 6th – The Precipice (2015), but I am happy I did so. While not quite as enjoyable as Barr’s Anna Pigeon, who travels from National Park to National Park and has a long and complex character arc, Doiron’s Mike Bowditch is young and naive and almost as compelling. If only to watch his mistakes.

The plot is simple –two female hikers disappear in the Hundred Mile Wilderness-the most remote stretch along the entire Appalachian Trail. Mike Bowditch joins the desperate search to find them. Hope turns to despair after two unidentified corpses are discovered at the base of the precipice, their bones picked clean by coyotes. Do the bodies belong to the missing hikers? Did the increasingly aggressive coyotes kill them? Or were they murdered and tossed off the cliff?

The outdoor hiker/nature lover descriptions are great for those who do love the trails. And the plot is just good enough to keep the reader going. I find it a closer read to CJ Box than Nevada Barr; perhaps that is due to the male main characters and the game warden roles (Box writes about a Wyoming Game Warden). Barr does better with characters than Box or Doiron.

I probably will go back now and read the first in the Bowditch series – The Poacher’s Son (2010), which won the Barry and was nominated for an Edgar, an Anthony and a Macavity for best first novel. That is a lot of praise! But for this book, my rating –  3 ½  of 5 stars.