The beauty and brutality of Maine's natural world--and humans' interference--are front and center in the exquisitely plotted Hatchet Island, the 13th novel from Paul Doiron (One Last Lie; Stay Hidden; Bad Little Falls) about game warden Mike Bowditch. Hatchet Island's concentration on at-risk birds, endangered whales and lobstermen fearful of losing their occupations illustrates how Mike's many duties include protecting Maine's resources as well as police work.
Mike and his girlfriend, biologist Stacey Stevens, travel to Baker Island in response to a plea for help from Kendra Ballard, Stacey's former roommate and colleague and now the project manager for the Maine Seabird Initiative's efforts to return puffins to the island. Kendra is worried because her boss, Maeve McLeary, hasn't been heard from since she left several days ago. The fears of Kendra and the other two researchers grow when they receive anonymous threats and the island's observation blinds are shot up. They believe the harassment comes from local lobstermen who are against a proposal that would close off a portion of the Gulf of Maine to protect endangered whales. After two researchers are murdered and a third is found incoherent, Mike's investigation takes him to Ayers Island, where residents live courtesy of a wealthy, eccentric photographer and his wife, and finally to a creepy quarry on Hatchet Island.
The tense plot works as an exciting locked-room mystery, while also giving insight into Mike's sense of justice, concern for Maine's fragile environment and deepening relationship with Stacey. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer