"Pure, Unadulterated Literary Suspense"

There are positive reviews that lift an author's spirits, and then there are reviews that validate years worth of hard work. This review by Catherine Ramsdell on the Web site PopMatters falls into the latter category for me:

Literary suspense—a story that scares with style, panache, symbolism, and metaphor along with a good dose of psychological terror—almost seems to be a thing of the past. That’s why books like The Poacher’s Son are not to be read but cherished.

The Poacher’s Son, Paul Doiron’s debut novel, is pure, unadulterated literary suspense. Beautifully crafted and perfectly paced, it makes you tuck your feet up under you while reading, and occasionally look nervously over your shoulder—just to make certain no one is there.


The setting and the characters both contribute to the greatest strength of this novel—the psychological tension and realism. It’s the psychological aspects that make the book suspenseful—not the violence or the murders. By the middle of the story, it’s not clear who Mike doubts and dislikes more: his father or himself. That is perhaps the most haunting element of the book—Mike’s self-doubt and the universality of this self-doubt.

Everyone wants to think they can spot a monster, a murderer, that they would know if their own father was really a cold-blooded killer. After all who knows a father better than his own son? If Mike doesn’t know whether or not his father is capable of murder, what can he know with any certainty?  It’s that age-old, universal question: Who can you trust when you don’t trust yourself?

When you're writing a novel, you create an idealized reader in your head: one who understands and appreciates the choices you are making, who "gets" what you're trying to do. I have been fortunate to have had many wonderful notices for The Poacher's Son, but none of them has meant more to me than Catherine Ramsdell's review.

(And did I mention that she gave the book 9 out of 10 stars — "very nearly perfect"?)