Once again, we welcome back Kevin Tipple with a review. Catch up with more reviews, book news, and interesting links at his blog, Kevin's Corner.
As Almost Midnight by Paul Doiron begins, Mike Bowditch is on vacation and fishing. He deserves it and needs it after being promoted to Warden Investigator and moving to his new area. He was enjoying his rare break until he got a phone call about Billy Cronk. Billy wants to see him and as always with Billy the matter is urgent and can’t be spoken about over the phone. Which makes sense since Billy Cronk is in prison as a result of the actions he took as he saved Mike Bowditch’s life.
The legal system saw Cronk’s actions as excessive and he is now serving a prison sentence. The fact that locking up a man who, at the best of times, wasn’t the most mentally stable weighs heavily on Mike as does his guilt over testifying as there was no around the truth of what Billy did that fateful day. By telling the unvarnished truth, which Bowditch felt he had to do; his testimony was a major point for Billy’s conviction.
Billy has been known to relate unhinged conspiracy theories before and Mike Bowditch has no idea if the latest situation is another one of those deals or not. On the face of it, maybe not. Billy explains that they have a new CO, Dawn Ritchie. She is a sergeant and a transfer in from another facility that was recently closed by the Governor. Billy wants Bowditch to investigate her and to do it fast, but quietly. Frustratingly, Billy absolutely refuses to say and then plays the trump card that Bowditch owes him.
Bowditch is very aware of that, but for him to stick his neck out, Billy has to give him a reason. The blowback he would get over an unauthorized investigation would be immense and with zero justification he just can’t do it. Bowditch refuses.
That is until with hours, chaos erupts at the prison with severe consequences for Billy, Richie, and others. What happened inside and later at the hospital is very complicated as are the background events that led up to the violence. As things escalate, Bowditch uses his vacation time to conduct his own unauthorized investigation into the case as well as deal with some other situations in two separate and meaningful secondary storylines.
The result of all these complicated situations and characters makes Almost Midnight another very good read in the series. As always, the human dynamics of various characters are interwoven with the beauty, often a stark and potentially fatal beauty, of the Maine wilderness. The character of Bowditch, as well as his relationships with others, continues to evolve making it very important to read this series on order. Those already familiar with the books and short stories will find another compelling and enjoyable read in Almost Midnight: A Novel.
Almost Midnight: A Novel
My reading copy came from the Polk-Wisdom Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019