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Dead by Dawn: Mike Bowditch #12    by Paul Doiron order for
Dead by Dawn
by Paul Doiron
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dead by Dawn is the twelfth in Paul Doiron's stellar series starring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch. The author brings the Maine wilderness to life around the reader, and never more so than in this grueling, gripping episode, which I rate as the best yet in the series.

It starts with a cliffhanger. Then Mike's Jeep (its tires detonated by spiked objects on the road) goes over the cliff and into the frozen river below. What follows is a heart-stopping saga of continuing threats and survival against all odds. Fortunately, Mike is not totally alone. Shadow, the wolf-dog that Mike rescued and has bonded with (to a small extent) was in a crate in the rear of the car, and intervenes at a critical time.

The story moves back and forth in time, revealing what led to this series of crises and how Mike deals with each barrier raised to prevent his surviving this terrible ordeal and seeking help. Clearly old enemies are involved, but which ones? He's made quite a number over his career. Can Mike, 'a young man with an old soul', survive hypothermia and the set of hunters (tracking him in snowmobiles with shotguns and automatic weapons) to tell the tale?

Of course, he does make it, but it's quite a journey - for the reader as well as the game warden. The story ends on a much happier note with a Christmas reunion, and an old romance renewed. This episode set a high bar for what will follow - I look forward to it!

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