Two contrasting thrillers this week. First up, a debut novel, The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron. I gather this is the first in a series featuring Mike Bowditch the main protagonist in this book.
Mike is estranged from his hard drinking, womanising father, Jack, who lives in Maine and makes his living from illegal poaching. His mother, now remarried, still hankers after her charismatic ex-husband and Mike has unresolved issues from his unhappy childhood. As the story opens, Mike is on his own as his girlfriend, tired of living in the wilds of Maine, has gone back to the city but as the story progresses it seems that the relationship may not yet be at an end.
Feeling unhappy and at a loose end, Mike comes home one day to find a message for him on his answerphone. It is his father, who is in trouble, accused of the murder of a local cop, and the hunt is up. He has escaped from custody and, knowing the woods as well as he does, it is going to be difficult to apprehend him. Mike is sure his father is innocent and decides to do a bit of investigating of his own, putting his life and his job at risk.
This is a fairly standard story and we progress with Mike on his journey, but it is very well written, pacey and the setting in the backwoods of Maine, is quite beautiful. There is an unexpected ending which took me by surprise and I am very much looking forward to the second, Trespassers, when it is published over here.
Paul Doiron is a native of Maine, a registered Maine Guide and lives by a trout stream in this state, so he certainly knows his background which is clear from the wonderful descriptions of the wild. A good read.
Complete contrast - the latest Liz Carlyle book, Rip Tide, by Stella Rimington who used to head up MI5 in the UK. I presume, as there have been several of these already, that the Intelligence Service are happy for her to write these in her retirement, but seems a tad odd to me. Still, they are fun. Not wonderful writing, no masterpiece here, but page turners and a good book to while away a few hours.
No Maine this time but London and Birmingham where a Mosque has come to the attention of MI5. Seems to be radicalising disaffected young Pakistanis and when pirates try to hijack a ship off the coast of Somalia with an English speaking Pakistani amongst them, alarm bells are set off back in London. The ship in question is delivering aid and medical supplies to underdeveloped countries and this was the third time their ship had been attacked. It was noted that it was only under threat when it was carrying an expensive cargo worth hijacking. The head of the charity, an ex-MI5 man, calls in a favour from the Service and an agent is planted in their office to see if a leak can be spotted.
Twists and turns and lots of covert operations going on, people in danger, a suicide bomber, threats and tension - another good read.
Read these both when tucked indoors on a bitter cold day. Just right.