Did coyotes kill those two hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Maine?

The Precipice by Paul DoironWell maybe they did. And maybe they didn’t. But a lot of people think they did. And you’ll have to read Paul Doiron’s new novel to find out if they are right.

If you’ve never read one of Paul Doiron’s novels, you are in for a summer of fun, because he just added novel number six to his group of engagingly fast reads of stories featuring a Maine game warden. And while I enjoyed every one of Paul’s novels, I do think he is getting better and better.

The plot in his new book, The Precipice, hits close to home with the disappearance of two girls on the Appalachian Trail’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. Warden Mike Bowditch is front and center in the search, along with his girlfriend Stacy, a wildlife biologist, and there are enough suspects to keep you guessing – and reading.

There’s Nissen, an ex-con, solitary guy, who held the record for the fastest hike of the AT, and who was writing a book about deaths on the trail. Hmmmm. Then there’s McDonut, a fat and lazy guy who claimed to be hiking the AT in sections. Very suspicious. There’s the odd, fanatical, angry local preacher. And the wild and crazy family who lived in a compound protected by bombs. Oh yea, Paul gives us plenty of suspects, not all of them human. Many locals decide the girls were killed by coyotes!

The dialogue is really good, something I always appreciate in a novel. The characters are well drawn – and I can only hope you don’t recognize any of them as living in your town.

The Precipice grabbed me right from the get go, and as I read I really felt like Paul kept me on the precipice, staring down into the fast moving water, wondering, guessing, trying to figure out who or what happened to those girls. And no, I didn’t guess right.

Paul is the former editor of DownEast magazine, and he still does some work for the magazine while spending most of his time writing novels – and fly fishing, one of his passions. He actually lives on a very nice trout stream on the coast. We once had Paul as a guest on the TV show Wildlife that Harry Vanderweide and I cohosted, and I’ve talked books, writing, game wardens, fishing, and more with him over the last few years. So I know he’s never going to run out of ideas for plots, and that’s good news!

I thought it was particularly nice that Paul dedicated the new novel to Ron Joseph, his “friend and teacher.” Ron is a retired federal wildlife biologist and also a friend of mine. I happen to know that he and Paul do a good bit of fishing together.

The Precipice is published by Minotaur Books and will be available in June. So you have time, if you get cracking, to read his other five books before you get to the new one. You don’t have to do that, because each story stands alone, but it would give you a good idea of how Warden Bowditch got to this stage in his career, and you’d understand why these novels have been winning awards and garnering lots of attention.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.