First Sentence: Before I left for Florida, my old friend and mentor Charley Stevens gave me a puzzling piece of advice.
Retired Game Warden Charley Stevens has been a mentor, friend, and father figure to Mike Bowditch since early in his career. Charlie disappearing from his wheelchair-bound wife Ora is enough to bring Mike back to his home state of Maine from Florida. When he finds Charley didn't take his seaplane and left a note for Mike instructing him not to search, it's an automatic dog-whistle for Mike to do everything he can to find Charley.
A book should open with a compelling hook: goal accomplished. The Florida sense of place is distinct—"Never had I encountered nature in such glorious, riotous abundance. An eye-popping, caterwauling carnival of life." This is followed by another good life lesson—"A small fish came up to snap at it. A bigger fish rose from the depths to swallow the smaller fish whole. There's always someone bigger, someone hungrier."
Having strong characters makes all the difference. Eleven books in, Mike is only 31 with that combination of hard experience, intelligence, and skills, yet offset with youthful arrogance, occasional overconfidence, and romantic cluelessness. The women in Mike's world are bright, tough, and intelligent. Not a lot of time is spent on backstory. Instead, the author lets the story fill in the blanks so one never has the sense of coming in at the middle of the series.
Maine is a state most people think they know from photos of the coastline. The author's Maine is one of vast, wooded areas, lakes, self-reliant, often dangerous people, and drugs. The action scenes happen fast and there are plenty of them. They are visual and heart-stopping, with barely a pause of relief before one crisis moves to the next. The plot follows Mike's investigation step-by-step, and from place to place, which avoids one becoming confused. The inclusion of an investigation report adds realism to the story. However, along with Mike, one must always question who can be trusted.
"One Last Lie" is a literary mystery with many different elements brought together through intelligent writing and a complex protagonist. Mike may be a game warden, but this is a case where the threats come from animals with two legs. Doiron and Mike are unique. One cannot help but want to read more of this exceptional series.
ONE LAST LIE (LicInv-Warden Mike Bowditch-Maine-Contemp) – VG
Doiron, Paul – 11th in series
Minotaur Books, Jun 2020, 320 pp.