Working in Maine’s untamed and rocky environments, Mike Bowditch is a passionate and determined game warden. He is frequently involved in criminal investigations involving hunting infractions, poaching, and other unlawful activities that take place in the vast wilderness of the area throughout the course of the series written by Paul Doiron.
Bowditch’s duties as a game warden include safeguarding animals, enforcing hunting and fishing laws, and upholding law and order within his area of responsibility. However, his strong sense of justice and desire to solve crimes frequently push him to go above and beyond the call of duty, placing himself at risk in the process.
How to read the Mike Bowditch Series in Order?
Every entry in the Mike Bowditch book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Poacher’s Son (2010) – Game warden Mike Bowditch finds an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: they are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before―and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.
- Trespasser (2011) – While on patrol one foggy March evening, Mike Bowditch receives a call for help. A woman has reportedly struck a deer on a lonely coast road. When the game warden arrives on the scene, he finds blood on the road―but both the driver and the deer have vanished. And the state trooper assigned to the accident appears strangely unconcerned.
- Bad Little Falls (2012) – Mike Bowditch has been sent into exile, transferred by his superiors to a remote outpost on the Canadian border. When a blizzard descends on the coast, Bowditch is called to the rustic cabin of a terrified couple. A raving and half-frozen man has appeared at their door, claiming his friend is lost in the storm. But what starts as a rescue mission in the wilderness soon becomes a baffling murder investigation.
- Massacre Pond (2013) – On an unseasonably hot October morning, Mike Bowditch is called to the scene of a bizarre crime: the corpses of seven 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 becomes far more sinister when a shocking murder is discovered.
- The Bear Trap (2015, short story) – In this original short story in the Mike Bowditch mystery series, legendary Maine woodsman and bush pilot Charley Stevens tries to convince young Mike Bowditch of the dangers awaiting rookie game wardens.
- The Bone Orchard (2014) – In the aftermath of a family tragedy, Mike Bowditch has left the Maine Warden Service and is working as a fishing guide in the North Woods. But when his mentor Sgt. Kathy Frost is forced to kill a troubled war veteran in an apparent case of “suicide by cop,” he begins having second thoughts about his decision.
- The Precipice (2015) – When two female hikers disappear in the Hundred Mile Wilderness-the most remote stretch along the entire Appalachian Trail-Maine game warden Mike Bowditch joins the desperate search to find them. Hope turns to despair after two unidentified corpses are discovered-their bones picked clean by coyotes. Do the bodies belong to the missing hikers? And were they killed by the increasingly aggressive wild dogs?
- Widowmaker(2016) – When a mysterious woman in distress appears outside his home, Mike Bowditch has no clue she is about to blow his world apart. Amber Langstrom is beautiful, damaged, and hiding a secret with a link to his past. She claims her son Adam is a wrongfully convicted sex offender who has vanished from a brutal work camp in the high timber around the Widowmaker Ski Resort. She also claims that Adam is the illegitimate son of Jack Bowditch, Mike’s dead and diabolical father.
- Knife Creek (2017) – When Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is tasked with shooting invasive feral hogs that are tearing up the forest in his district, he makes a horrific discovery ― a dead baby buried in a shallow grave. Even more disturbing: evidence suggests the infant was the child of a young woman who was presumed to have died four years earlier after she disappeared from a group rafting trip.
- Rabid (2018, short story) – Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch accompanies his old friend and mentor, retired bush pilot Charley Stevens, as he pays a visit to a mysterious woman, the widow of a Vietnam vet, living in isolation in the Maine wilderness.
- Stay Hidden (2018) – A woman has been shot to death by a deer hunter on an island off the coast of Maine. To newly promoted Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch, the case seems open and shut. But as soon as he arrives on remote Maquoit Island he discovers mysteries piling up one on top of the other.
- Backtrack (2019, short story) – When a visiting hunter goes missing in the middle of a snowstorm, a young Charley Stevens (later the mentor to game warden Mike Bowditch) sets off to rescue him-but begins to suspect the man may not want to be found.
- Almost Midnight (2019) – While on vacation, Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch receives a strange summons from Billy Cronk, one of his oldest friends and a man he had to reluctantly put behind bars for murder. Billy wants him to investigate a new female prison guard with a mysterious past, and Mike feels honor-bound to help his friend. But when the guard becomes the victim in a brutal attack at the prison, he realizes there may be a darker cover-up at play―and that Billy and his family might be at risk.
- The Imposter (2020, short story) – When the body of a young man is pulled from a submerged car in Roque Harbor, rookie game warden Mike Bowditch is shocked when the man’s driver’s license identifies him as none other than…Mike Bowditch.
- One Last Lie (2020) – “Never trust a man without secrets.” These are the last words retired game warden Charley Stevens speaks to his surrogate son, Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch, before the old man vanishes without explanation. Mike suspects his friend’s mysterious departure has to do with an antique warden badge that recently resurfaced at a flea market – a badge connected to a cold case from Charley’s past that the Maine Warden Service would rather forget.
- The Caretaker (2021, short story) – New owners of a dream cottage on a remote Maine lake find themselves taunted, then menaced by an unknown figure. When the local authorities refuse to help, they turn to retired Maine game warden Charley Stevens and his young protege Mike Bowditch for protection. But Charley begins to suspect there is more to the mystery than the couple is letting on–and if he and Mike don’t act fast, the situation will explode into violence.
- Dead by Dawn (2021) – Mike Bowditch is fighting for his life. After being ambushed on a dark winter road, Bowditch crashes his Jeep into a frozen river. Trapped beneath the ice in the middle of nowhere, having lost his gun and any way to signal for help, Mike fights his way to the surface. But surviving the crash is only the first challenge. Whoever set the trap that ran him off the road is still out there, and they’re coming for him.
- Skin and Bones (2022, short story) – When Maine game warden Mike Bowditch discovers a bullet-ridden bald eagle in the Maine woods, he is surprised by the memories it brings back for his mentor, retired warden pilot Charley Stevens. Decades earlier, Charley briefly teamed up with Mike’s father, the notorious poacher Jack Bowditch, on an unsettling case that has haunted Charley for years. The two enemies, both war veterans, found common cause over the senseless shooting of a magnificent eagle.
- Hatchet Island (2022) – A call for help from a former colleague leads Maine game warden investigator Mike Bowditch and his girlfriend Stacey Stevens on a sea kayaking trip to a research station far off the coast. Stacey spent summers interning on the island, a sanctuary for endangered seabirds, and they are shocked by the atmosphere of tension they encounter when they come ashore. The biologists are being threatened and stalked by a mysterious boatman who they suspect is trespassing on the refuge late at night. And now the sanctuary’s enigmatic founder, whose mind has been slowly unraveling, has gone missing.
- Snakebit (2023, short story) – When a teenager arrives at a Maine hospital with a rattlesnake bite, warden Mike Bowditch is baffled. Rattlesnakes have been extinct in the region for over a hundred years-so where did this one come from? Bowditch’s investigation leads him to a pair of eccentric married scientists who have a vested interest in rattlesnakes and their venom. Even more suspicious, their estranged daughter has accused them of carrying out grotesque experiments on her. As more rattlesnakes appear in the woods-and the case becomes increasingly mystifying-Bowditch finds himself running out of time to catch his exotic foe.
- Dead Man’s Wake (2023) – On the evening of their engagement party, Maine Game Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch and Stacey Stevens witness what seems to be a hit-and-run speedboat crash on a darkened lake. When they arrive at the scene, their spotlight reveals a gruesome sight: a severed arm floating just beneath the surface. As day breaks, the warden dive team recovers not one but two naked corpses: a dismembered man and the married woman with whom he was having an affair. Mike begins to suspect the swimmers’ deaths were not a senseless accident but a coldly calculated murder.
- Pitch Dark (2024) – Legendary bush pilot Josie Jonson can’t believe her luck when a skilled builder just happens to show up after she purchases land near Prentiss Pond. All Mark Redmond asks in return for building Josie’s dream cabin is that he be left alone to homeschool his 12-year-old daughter, Cady. When suspicious criminal activity is reported around the area, Josie agrees to fly Mike Bowditch and his father-in-law Charley Stevens to the secluded pond in an attempt to protect Redmond and Cady. But hours after landing, the trip takes a dark turn when they witness a horrific murder and are taken captive themselves.
If you like the Mike Bowditch reading order, you may be interested in Joe Pickett, Sean Stranahan, Walt Longmire, Cork O’Connor… Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.