The disappearance of Mike Bowditch’s beloved mentor reveals an ominous connection to a 15-year-old cold case in One Last Lie, the new thriller from bestselling Edgar Award finalist Paul Doiron.
“Never trust a man without secrets.” These are the last words retired game warden Charley Stevens speaks to his surrogate son, Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch, before the old man vanishes without explanation. Mike suspects his friend’s mysterious departure has to do with an antique warden badge that recently resurfaced at a flea market — a badge connected to a cold case from Charley’s past that the Maine Warden Service would rather forget.
Fifteen years ago, a young warden was sent on an undercover mission to infiltrate a notorious poaching ring and never returned. He was presumed dead, but his body was never recovered. Mike is desperate to find Charley before he meets a similar fate. His investigation brings him to the miles of forest and riverside towns along the Canadian border—but he soon learns that even his fellow wardens have secrets to keep. And Charley’s past isn’t the only one coming to light; his daughter, Stacey, has resurfaced to search for her missing father, and Mike must grapple with the return of the woman he once thought was gone forever.
Forced to question his faith in the man he sees as a father, Mike must reopen a cold case that powerful people—one of whom may be a killer—will do anything to keep closed.
Edgar finalist Doiron artfully blends a whodunit plot with superior characterizations in his top-notch 11th mystery featuring Mike Bowditch, who works for the Maine Warden Service (after 2019's After Midnight). Bowditch rushes back home to Maine from Florida, where he was checking out the background of a prospective new warden, after getting a call from Ora Stevens, the wife of Bowditch's longtime mentor and friend, Charley. Ora hasn't seen or heard from Charley since he abruptly left home a few days earlier. The day before Charley departed, he got into an argument with a man at a roadside pop-up bazaar, because the man was selling an old game warden badge. Bowditch finds a note Charley left behind in which he expresses the fear he's made "the worst mistake a man can make in this life," one that potentially threatens his loved ones. These clues lead Bowditch to probe an incident in Charley's past he hadn't known about Charley's fatal shooting of a man suspected of murdering a warden who had gone undercover to bust a poaching ring. Doiron vividly portrays the Maine woods setting while maintaining taut suspense. This entry reinforces the author's position in the front rank of regional thriller writers.