Reviews by L. J. Roberts


PAUL DOIRON – Dead by Dawn. Game Warden Mike Bowditch #12. Minotaur Books, hardcover, June 2021. Setting: Contemporary Maine.

First Sentence: The hill is steep here, and there is no guardrail above the river.

   Some love books and take great care of them: don’t write in them, or bend down corners. Hardcovers are put in mylar archival covers as soon as they arrive, and  the spines are not broken. But not this one. With a print, rather than an e-copy of this book, one would be tempted to rip out the pages out with abandon so they could be reordered in chronological order.

   You see, the author decided to write the story alternating between the present, and the very recent past; truly a gap of an hour, perhaps. The story is jumping back and forth like the ball in the championship ping-pong tournament and tends to drive one crazy.

   One assumes at some point, the past will with meetup with the present, but one may not wait that long before becoming screamingly frustrated. Not only does the style make the story nearly impossible to read, but it also removes most of the suspense which would have been otherwise palpable. Perhaps if one had a paper copy, they’d skip to the end just to see how it comes out. Frankly, however, no reader should feel the need to do that.

   For pity’s sake, what happened to the idea of starting the story at the beginning and carrying it straight through to the end; no prologue, no flashing back and forth, no portents: just tell the bleeding story!

   One could nearly conclude that many books written in 2020 were subject to the pandemic rendering too many authors incapable of editing, not rambling, including far more extraneous information than remotely needed, muddling the plot, including every character they can imagine, and falling prey to using devices that drive some readers mad with frustration. Sadly, this is one of those.

   Dead by Dawn is heartbreaking. Paul Doiron’s other books with his great characters, information about Maine and being a game warden there, are wonderful to read. Others will love this book and it well may win awards. However, others may find it gimmicky and annoying, and hope his next book returns to telling a cracking story in a straight timeline fashion.

Rating: Not Recommended.