Kirkus Reviews advertises itself as the world's toughest book reviewers, and if you ask most authors, you won't hear an argument on that score. (I was lucky to earn one of their rarely awarded stars for The Poacher's Son, and it felt like a real coup.) In their August 1 issue—not yet online, but I will post a link as soon as one is available—they take on Bad Little Falls.
So what's the verdict from Kirkus? Pretty great:
Now that he’s antagonized every other lawman in the state of Maine (Trespasser, 2011, etc.), game warden Mike Bowditch gets exiled to Washington County, the Down East territory where nothing ever happens. Things happen.
A snowy dinner with Doc Larrabee, the elderly veterinarian who’s one of the few people on speaking terms with Mike, and Doc’s friend, survivalist/professor Kevin Kendrick, ends when Doc, somewhat the worse for liquor, asks Mike to respond with him to his neighbor Ben Sprague’s call for help. Seems that someone has staggered out of the blizzard into the Spragues’ home and told Ben and his wife, Doris, a wild story about a friend he left wandering out in the snow. The someone, Mike realizes on their arrival, is Prester Sewall, brother of local beauty Jamie Sewall, who’s constitutionally drawn to all the wrong men, from her bullying little ex Mitch Munro, father of her son Lucas, to Randall Cates, the drug dealer she’s been seeing most recently. The friend, Mike soon discovers when he and Kevin go looking for him, is Randall Cates. His death, which seems at first like a happy ending for Jamie, looks both backward to the overdose last year of college student Trinity Raye and forward to the consequences of Mike’s fatal attraction to Jamie. The story’s ultimate import becomes clear only after more bad weather, some truly ugly surprises and the obligatory standoffs between Mike and everyone capable of fighting with him.
A high-stakes, high-tension yarn in which you keep wishing everything would turn out fine for the deeply flawed, deeply sympathetic hero even though you know it won't.
I've been remarking today that the anonymous reviewer's last sentence probably sums up my Mike Bowditch books better than anything I've read. Those Kirkus reviewers may be tough, but they're sharp too.