The Compleat Angler meets the Devil’s Disciples in this amiable Big Sky debut.
Ex-Marine Dahlgren Wallace has found his post–Gulf War vocation as river-keeper in the supersized Carved L. Ranch. The ranch, near Bozeman, Mont., is owned by media king Fred Lather, who seems a mite like media king Ted Turner, especially since his ex-wife, ex-actress Sally, seems a mite like the former Mrs. Turner. Lathar, who uses his ranch to impress and entertain well-heeled types able to do him some good, deputizes Dahlgren whenever fly-fishing beckons. A visiting fat cat one weekend is Mormon billionaire Elden Elderberry, accompanied by his trophy wife, a former Miss Utah. When the expedition proves fatal for Double E Squared, as he’s known, the crowded list of suspects includes members of a homegrown neo-Nazi militia, a radical environmental group, a whites-only cattleman’s association and, for a while, Dahlgren himself. When he’s not actively being framed, Dahlgren spends time kidnapped, roughed up and threatened within an inch of his life by one sinister cabal or another. Conspiracies are as plentiful as the trout in his employer’s well-stocked streams, forcing the river-keeper to set aside his beloved fly-fishing and cast a wide net for the wicked.
Likable, laid-back Dahlgren is cool enough to reel in readers, though it helps to be one of the fisher folk.