On an unseasonably hot October morning, game warden Mike Bowditch is called to the scene of a bizarre crime in eastern Maine: the corpses of ten moose have been found senselessly butchered on the estate of Elizabeth Morse, a wealthy animal rights activist who is buying up huge parcels of timberland to create a new national park.
What at first seems like mindless slaughter—retribution by locals for the job losses Morse's plan is already causing in the region—becomes far more sinister when a shocking murder is discovered and Mike's investigation becomes a hunt to find a ruthless killer. In order to solve the controversial case, Bowditch risks losing everything he holds dear: his best friends, his career as a laws enforcement officer, and the love of his life.
The beauty and magnificence of the Maine woods is the setting for a story of suspense and violence when one powerful woman’s missionary zeal comes face to face with ruthless cruelty.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Boxed Review): "The people of Washington County, Maine, are in an uproar in Doiron’s fourth novel starring game warden Mike Bowditch (after 2012’s Bad Little Falls), the best yet in the series. Hippie-turned-millionaire Betty Morse has spent some of her fortune to buy 100,000 acres of woodland that she intends to give to the federal government for a national park. Morse now has a long list of enemies, including hunters and forest-product workers whose lives and finances would be adversely affected. The first manifestation of the hostile reaction to Morse’s purchase may be the shooting of five moose on her property. The state of the carcasses suggests that whoever gunned down the animals didn’t do so for their meat. Bowditch is first on the scene of the moose slaughter, but his unpopularity with his superiors soon relegates him to spectator status, even as the violence escalates. An unusual lead investigator, thoughtful plotting, and lyrical prose add up to a winner."
Booklist (Starred Review): "Mike Bowditch is somehow still employed as a Maine game warden after his last escapade featuring an ill- advised affair with a suspect’s sister and an investigative coup that humiliated his superiors (Bad Little Falls, 2012). Bowditch has matured some and is playing by warden service rules, coasting through an uneventful hunting season until his friend Billy Cronk reports something’s “wicked bad” at controversial Moosehorn Lodge. Elizabeth Morse is campaigning to preserve Maine’s wilderness and has forbidden logging and hunting on the thousands of acres she’s recently acquired. Morse, who has been threatened repeatedly, is reviled by those who believe her mission threatens Maine’s outdoorsman culture and the locals' ability to feed their families. When Bowditch arrives, he finds five moose calculatingly slaughtered. Before the wardens narrow the immense list of suspects, a human murder is added to the animal casualties. Bowditch’s past insubordination has secured his banishment to the investigation’s fringes, but when Billy becomes the main suspect, he can’t let things lie. This series follows Bowditch from the start of his warden career, and his evolution creates a constantly fresh perspective paired with solid procedural details and an outdoors education, to boot. Massacre Pond, arguably the best yet, boasts fair-minded exploration of Maine’s conflicting environmental and economic interests and marks a turning point for Bowditch, who questions his fit with a career that constantly requires suppressing his instincts."
The Bangor Daily News: "Grant Doiron this: He’s got guts, taking on such hot-button topics as a North Woods National Park and the still officially unsolved Soldiertown moose massacre, and linking the pair together in a fictional work. And that work is — as usual — masterful. Doiron, who toils by day as the editor-in-chief of Down East magazine, has quickly become one of the state’s top literary properties. And in Massacre Pond — his fourth Mike Bowditch thriller — he raises the bar once again."
The Associated Press: "Doiron fashions a tense and clever mystery peopled by characters you could well meet by wandering into the wrong Down East bar. As usual, he peppers his superbly well-written yarn with evocative descriptions of the state he and Bowditch call home."
Mystery Scene: "Bowditch is an extremely relatable protagonist, whose reactions to the trials and tribulations his creator throws at him are entirely believable. Doiron has also created a fascinating personal life for his hero—readers can see him changing as the series progresses, affected both by his human relationships and his experiences on the job. Doiron...also takes great pains to bring Bowditch's home state of Maine to vivid life."
Library Journal: "Readers following outdoor procedurals will snap up Maine game warden Mike Bowditch’s fourth riveting case (after Bad Little Falls), which involves an animal activist whose ideals threaten her family’s safety and open the door to unexpected violence."
The Criminal Element: "Massacre Pond is a damn good mystery — full of twists, turns, and clever red herrings. The prose is fantastic, too, with portions of the book reading like a love letter to the Maine woods....It’s not only a thrilling read, but a nuanced one, as well, and as a native of this state, I can assure you — it’s about as close as you can get to the Maine wilderness without leaving your couch."