A tragic accidental death, a suicide, and a probable murder roil the waters in prime Montana fishing country.
Freida Toliver and her husband, Chuck, are out looking for shed antlers for Freida’s chandelier business when they’re overtaken by a snowstorm and a whopping drop in temperature. Chuck survives by shooting his horse and crawling into the carcass for warmth, but Freida and her horse vanish in the storm. Though a rescue party finds her in a bear den, she dies on the way to the hospital. Sheriff Martha Ettinger loses a finger trying and failing to prevent Chuck’s suicide. When Martha and Sean Stranahan—watercolorist, fishing guide, part-time detective, and her sometime lover (Buffalo Jump Blues, 2016, etc.)—return to the scene to retrieve the pair’s valuable saddles, they run into Wilhelm Winkler, who claims to be Freida’s adoptive brother. Found in Freida’s vest was a fly wallet marked EH and filled with very old flies. Patrick Willoughby and Kenneth Winston, Sean’s friends at the Madison River Liars and Fly Tiers Club, suggest that the wallet may have belonged to Ernest Hemingway. The writer lost an entire trunk of valuable trout fishing gear and possibly the start of a novel, and a letter Willoughby just received hints that someone may have found it. After Willoughby hires Sean to meet with the unsigned letter writer, he and a Plott hound belonging to a local woman find Winkler dead along the riverbank. Returning to the scene with his friend Sam, he finds Winkler’s fly rod, which was evidently custom-built for Hemingway. Sean continues to hunt for the missing trunk, finds that chandeliers were the least of Freida’s business endeavors, and travels as far as Michigan in search of further information. He uncovers a tangled web of clues while trying to balance his burgeoning relationship with Martha.
An exciting adventure set against some of the West’s most stunning landscapes. Cleverly interwoven with the true story of Hemingway’s lost trunk, it goes far to elucidate the mystique of fly-fishing.