Field & Stream editor McCafferty’s first novel is a fish story with a homicidal hook.
Fresh from a wracking divorce, Sean Stranahan arrives in Bridger, Mont., unsettled and unhappy, a man without much purpose. He has only two serious interests: painting and fly-fishing. True, he once earned a living as a licensed private eye, but he never really took that seriously. Then along comes a southern songbird and natural heartbreaker calling herself Velvet Lafayette, and suddenly a susceptible Stranahan finds himself taking sleuthing very seriously indeed. Fetched out of Montana’s trout-laden Madison River is a dead young man who proves to be the songbird’s missing brother. A tragic accident? Hardly. Not with that Royal Wulff lure hooked so grotesquely in his mouth. Who put it there and why? That’s what Vareda, her real name, hires Stranahan to discover. Since it’s an election year, Sheriff Martha Ettinger takes a more than passing interest in these questions as well. But when murder follows murder, it becomes all too clear that someone ruthless is intent on keeping the answers secret. Having begun at cross-purposes, Martha and Sean now find themselves flirting with disaster. But their flirting with each other turns out to be beneficial for the investigation and fun for the reader.
An entertaining debut, though less of the fishing stuff probably would have been more.