Virgil Flowers (Heat Lightning, 2008, etc.) emerges from the long shadow of mentor Lucas Davenport to solve the murder of an advertising executive that features some long shadows of its own.
Someone had the prowess to kill Erica McDill with a single head shot from 80 yards away as she paddled her canoe outside Eagle Nest Lodge. The footprint that cops found near a shell casing is from an upscale women’s brand shoe, but that doesn’t do much to narrow the list of suspects: Eagle Nest’s clientele is exclusively female. Hauled in from a musky-fishing tournament by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil quickly finds himself up to his armpits in women who prefer the company of other women. Even Eagle Nest accountant Zoe Tull has been smitten by Wendy Ashbach, the country singer who’s fronting an all-girl band at the Wild Goose, where she’s cast a spell over every female in the house. Maybe that’s why Zoe, who’s helpful enough to introduce Virgil to her straight (and sex-starved) sister Signy, somehow forgets to mention the strangling of a guest from Iowa two years ago, shortly after she, like McDill, took a businesslike interest in Wendy’s band. No matter. However distracted he is by pursuing Sig, repeatedly crossing Zoe off his list of suspects and then penciling her back on, and questioning everyone else in northern Minnesota, Virgil does enough honest detective work to justify focusing his investigation first on the band, then on Wendy’s creepy father Slibe and even creepier brother Slibe Jr.
Readers may at first share the verdict of Virgil’s fishing buddy—“I thought it would be interesting, but it’s just nasty”—but following the trail to McDill’s killer proves as interesting as hooking and landing a 40-pound musky.