Mike Bowditch has been a Game Warden in Maine for a couple of years, when he hears his father’s voice on a voicemail asking for his help. Although Mike hasn’t heard anything from his father for two years, he quickly finds out what it is all about. Many people in the Northwoods are frustrated. The Wendigo Company is buying up property and people who have had long-standing leases are afraid that they are going to be turned out after generations of living there.
An emotional meeting was held in a local tavern and threats were issued by the leaseholders. When the officer who was there to protect the executive from the company tried to leave the area by another route, someone was waiting in the woods and shot them both. The police suspect Mike’s father, Jack, of the crime because tire tracks from his truck and a boot print were found at the scene and when they went to question him, he ran. Mike has been called in for questioning, but he is certain his father is not the killer.
The situation is difficult though, because his father has been guilty of numerous petty crimes, bar brawls, poaching, and more, and he has a clear disdain for law enforcement. Mike knows this all too well, as a child he saw these things first-hand and it is part of the reason that he wanted to become a Game Warden – he thought he might make amends for his father’s guilt.
He doesn’t believe that his father would ambush two men and shoot them point-blank though, and so he finds himself in a difficult position, wanting to cooperate with officials he knows personally, but also wanting his father to be able to defend himself against these false allegations. A manhunt is organized and Mike fears that his father will be shot on sight, so he begins his own investigation. He interviews his father’s current girlfriend who claims Jack was with her that night and they were nowhere near that meeting. She accuses her father and Jack’s employer of conspiring to pin the crime on Jack, but Mike finds out that she was at the tavern drinking earlier in the evening. Nothing seems to make sense.
Mike also receives a call from his father who says he has crossed the border into Canada, but Mike feels sure that isn’t true, his dad is a good woodsman and would be able to hide close by. Mike puts his career on the line to try to protect his dad when it seems that no one believes in his father’s innocence.
“The Poacher’s Son” by Paul Doiron is the first in a twelve-book series (so far) about Mike Bowditch, whose job is very solitary and so he often needs to make quick decisions and deal with some dangerous situations with people and animals and the environment, while also protecting nature and the people who live, or are just visiting, there.