Charlie Orr’s been camping at the Rainbow Rapids campground since before the State of Michigan took it over and installed retirees Burt and Billie Berry (who calls Charlie simply “Tent Man”) as host and hostess. Now Charlie’s taken root at Rainbow Rapids for good, thanks to two shotgun blasts fired right through the wall of his tent. Who killed him, and was he really the intended victim? In a close-knit community like Ossning, where Charlie’s friends—led by Kabin Kamp owner Verlyn Kelso and Donal Fitzgerald, live-in lover of Verlyn’s ex-wife Mercy Virdon, local field officer of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)—immediately take up a collection of reward money, even suspecting somebody of murder can be traumatic. So everybody’s happy to ignore the rumors of a link between Charlie’s death and all-too-common local marijuana use and instead read the worst into the disappearance of fellow camper Alec Proffit, the Vermont writer who came all the way to northern Michigan to fish. But Proffit soon turns up with a story of his own: Charlie had the goods on a ring of poachers who’ve long operated under the indifferent eye of the DNR, and he was presumably killed by either the poachers or corrupt DNR officials. As Mercy acutely asks herself, though: “What would matter so much to a poacher?”
Weber (Catch and Keep, not reviewed, etc.) provides a satisfying answer in the form of a clever motive for murder. Readers not equally enamored of the niceties of fly fishing, however, may wonder if the cleverness justifies a whole novel.