New releases from Maine authors

MASSACRE POND

By Paul Doiron

Minotaur Books, 2013

309 pages, $24.99

ISBN 978-1-250-03393-2

Mike Bowditch has been a Maine game warden long enough to know that the scene he’s looking at is the worst wildlife crime in recent state history. But 10 slaughtered moose won’t be the only dead things he sees before this exciting story is finished.

Massacre Pond is award-winning Maine author Paul Doiron’s fourth mystery featuring the hapless game warden.

This smart plot is loosely based on two actual events — an unsolved 1999 wildlife crime and the efforts of a Maine millionaire to create a national park in northern Maine. The similarities between the real-life events and Doiron’s clever plot will be all too familiar, which makes the story seem all the more believable.

Bowditch is an outcast within the warden service, primarily for his impulsive insubordination and poor judgment, so now he is exiled to a remote district in Washington County, “a desolate outland where game wardens are hated and oxycodone abuse was epidemic.”

The moose slaughter is discovered on the property of Elizabeth Morse, a wealthy businesswoman who owns more than 100,000 acres of forest, prohibiting all local uses including hunting, fishing and hiking, selfishly intending to turn her private enclave into a national park. Morse is roundly hated by all the locals and receives constant death threats.

The cops think the moose kill is a graphic message for Morse, but Bowditch thinks it might be something else. Even though he is insultingly pushed out onto the periphery of the investigation, he pokes around on his own and learns that some things just don’t add up.

When people are murdered, Bowditch knows he’s right but no one will listen to him. This is one of Doiron’s best mysteries, with gripping suspense, clever clues, red herrings and a wild, chaotic cop shoot-out.

THE SUMMER EVERYTHING CHANGED

By Holly Chamberlain

Kensington Books, 2013

388 pages, $15

ISBN 978-0-7582-7534-9

Portland author Holly Chamberlain’s 11th novel (after “Last Summer”) is a tense drama that confronts the frightening spectre of teenage domestic abuse.

Chamberlain’s novels are generally much more light-hearted than this, often dealing with friendships and family relationships. This story, however, is dark right from the start, with a teenage girl caught in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, jeopardizing her own safety and her positive relationship with her mother.

The story begins slowly as Louise Bessire and her 15-year-old daughter, Isobel, get ready for the summer tourist season at their bed-and-breakfast inn in Ogunquit. Louise is a relatively new innkeeper, now facing the daunting challenge of hosting the obscenely lavish celebrity wedding of two self-absorbed stars of the worst television show in history, providing the story’s only comic relief.

While Louise grapples with the unrealistic demands of an arrogant, smarmy and insufferable Hollywood wedding planner, Isobel meets Jeff Otten, a handsome, rich, 19-year-old college student who showers her with summer romance attention and affection. And now this creepy tale really picks up speed and suspense.

Once Chamberlain gets into the meat of this timely plot, she does a masterful job of creating a clever series of menacing and subtle clues as to Jeff’s real intentions, how he slowly and insidiously manipulates, controls and sexually and mentally abuses Isobel, turning her into “his emotional prisoner.”

Fortunately, Isobel is a smart, resilient girl, but her awakening may be too late as the violence escalates and her mother may become a victim, too.

Chamberlain’s deft handling of the problems, signals and decisions in a teenage domestic abuse situation are presented in a vivid, compelling fashion, revealing just how dangerous and harmful such abusive behavior can be for victims and their families.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.