Summer, especially during the August doldrums, is a good time to kick back with a good book. For any outdoor-minded person, here are two new books, written by Maine authors, that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

The first is “Massacre Pond” by Paul Doiron. (Minotaur Books, $24.95). The editor of Downeast magazine, Doiron is a relatively new fiction writer who is catching fire. He has written a couple of good murder mysteries based on a fictional Maine Game Warden, Mike Bowditch.

In “Massacre Pond,” Bowditch is called in to investigate the senseless shooting of five moose. The animals are shot on the estate of a wealthy animal rights activist who is buying up expansive parcels of wilderness to create a national park.

Sound familiar? It should. Elizabeth Morse, Doiron’s land baroness, has all of the earmarks of real-life Roxanne Quimby. The suspicion is that the moose murders are retribution against Morse, whose big land purchases are raising havoc with the local economy and woods jobs. The plot thickens, though, when Morse’s daughter is killed in a suspicious car accident.

Doiron’s tale has all of the ingredients of a tense thriller that kept my attention to the end. Doiron has something else going with his Mike Bowditch series besides good storytelling. He is a master, not only at his ability to portray the real Maine, but in developing characters that are evocative and fascinating in their human foibles and complex personal relationships.

How he manages so skillfully to take real Maine characters and events and weave them so seamlessly into the tapestry of his story is worthy of admiration. For example, the senseless, wanton mass killing of the moose is not a figment of Doiron’s imagination; it happened, and to this day has never been solved. Word is that the Maine Warden Service suspects who committed this felony but has insufficient hard evidence to justify the issuance of summons.

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Doiron’s protagonist, Warden Mike Bowditch, is an endearing, courageous character with his share of personal problems and self-doubts. Personally, I can’t wait to see what adventure awaits Warden Bowditch after Massacre Pond.

The other great summer read is “Master Guide Handbook: Outdoor Adventure Trips” by Gil Gilpatrick. (Fox Chapel Publishing, $19.95). Few men are more qualified to write this book about outdoor leadership than legendary Maine Guide Gilpatrick.

Gilpatrick has devoted a lifetime to guiding people on outdoor adventures, much of it on the Allagash Waterway. This book is a compendium of wilderness wisdom, not only from Gil’s experiences, but also those of seven other highly experienced and respected Maine wilderness guides. They are Randy McEwen, Carter Smith, Greg Sarnacki, Dick Mosher, Bryan Courtois, Kevin Slater and Polly Mahoney.

A beautifully illustrated and reader-friendly book with many color photos, it covers every conceivable aspect of what is involved in successful outdoor guiding and leadership, from planning and purchasing to camping and canoeing.

This is one of those uniquely utilitarian books that is 200 pages of useful information, not only for anyone interested in professional recreational guiding but for any outdoor person interested in becoming more capable and self-reliant in woodscraft and outdoor safety.

An aside about the author, Gil Gilpatrick, who also writes a monthly column for the Northwoods Sporting Journal called “Northwoods Voyager.” Good guides are not neccessarily good teachers. Gil, however, is one of those rare combinations — an outdoor leader who knows how to teach others and takes personal satisfaction in doing it.

“Master Maine Guide Handbook” is kind of a grand finale of information gleaned from the cumulative outdoor experiences of Gil and some of this state’s other most accomplished guides. In the anglers’ lexicon, it’s a keeper!

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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