BUSHNELL ON THE BOOKS: “Dead By Dawn” and “Maine Al Fresco”


DEAD BY DAWN by Paul Doiron; Minotaur Books, 2021; 320 pages, $27.99; ISBN 978-1-250-23510-7.


Maine Game Warden investigator Mike Bowditch is like a cat with nine lives, except he’s used most of them in the previous books. He only has a few lives left and he might miss some in this latest novel, “Dead By Dawn.”

This is the 12th mystery starring Mike Bowditch by best-selling and award-winning author Paul Doiron from coastal Maine. It’s clearly the most violent, gory, suspenseful, and fast-paced story to date. The series has already enjoyed a long and well-deserved popularity, as Doiron cleverly combines crime, investigation, suspense, woodcraft and action with colorful, quirky and often dangerous characters in original and timely storylines. And this novel won the 2022 Maine Literary Award for detective fiction.

Each book in this series looks better than the last, and this latest tale is the most thrilling and deadly mess Mike has ever been in. In a bitterly cold December, just before Christmas, Mike reopens a four-year-old cold case – the apparent accidental death of a wealthy professor. But the victim’s daughter-in-law says it was murder.

After interviewing the woman and her weird daughter, Mikes senses something is wrong. Both women lie, so he interviews others involved in the cold case who also lie to him, including the original investigator, a disgraced and angry ex-manager who hates Mike’s guts.

Mike’s investigation upsets someone, as he is soon ambushed on an icy road and nearly killed. And that’s just the beginning of his problems. Pursued by gunmen on snowmobiles, Mike is disarmed, frozen and injured – he is in the throes of a change. However, he is resourceful, and despite cold-blooded murders, shootings, stabbings, blackmail, a pile of corpses, and bad luck, he finally recognizes who he’s dealing with and why. And it’s not pretty.

MAINE AL FRESCO: THE FIFTY BEST OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN MAINE by Ron Chase; Northern Country Press, 2021; 271 pages, $24.95; ISBN 978-1-943424-70-2.


Topsham author Ron Chase’s 50 Greatest Outdoor Adventures are very personal and meaningful to him (he actually made 49 and watched one). What he doesn’t say upfront, but readers will immediately see, is that these adventures aren’t for the meek or the weak. Shy amateurs need not apply.

Chase is a seasoned outdoor enthusiast who, at age 74, writes a column called “Seniors Not Acting Their Age.” He has notably climbed New England’s 100 highest peaks in winter and is a proud member of the Penobscot Paddling and Chowder Society, a group of like-minded outdoor adventurers.

This is a travel guide for the hardy souls who might want to climb Mount Katahdin in the winter, backpack through the northern woods with 80 pounds of gear, paddle a sea kayak 41 miles around from Isle au Haut or race the treacherous whitewater rapids of Gulf Hagas in a canoe.

Sections highlight mountain hikes, bike trails, sea kayaking, whitewater canoeing, lake paddling, canoe and backpack trips, and two popular canoe and kayak races. Chase provides detailed descriptions of each adventure and his own experiences, as well as location, directions of travel, length, difficulty levels (most are strenuous or very difficult), and potential dangers such as “injuries , death or loss of boats are real possibilities”.

He is brutally honest with his precautions. If people want to tackle these adventures, they must be physically and mentally fit, experienced, well equipped and trained, never go out alone and not take unnecessary risks (instinct and weather reports are reliable) .

The book is short, however, as it never explains jargon like “scouting”, “portage”, “throwbags” and “colanders”, or the meaning of whitewater difficulty ratings and water levels -” Release 3500 CFS, Class III/IV” does not make sense to the uninitiated.

Best Advice: Pack some extra adrenaline.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.


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