Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty

First Sentence: The fishing guide known as Rainbow Sam found the body.

The body of a young man with a Royal Wulff trout fly through his lip is retrieved from a log jam, but that’s not what killed him. Sherriff Martha Ettinger, along with ex-PI, painter, fly-fisher Sean Stranahan, look to find the killer amid the very big-money fly-fishing business of Montana. 

From the very beginning, we are made aware of McCafferty’s humour—“The client, whose largest trout to date had been the size of a breakfast sausage.”—and given a strong sense of place—“Twilight was an amber smear on the horizon; the river glitters in the slanted light. In a few minutes the polish would fade from the surface, the current’s mercurial song would slide into bass notes, and the wild night would claim it against further human intrusion.”

While most of the characters, particularly Sean and Martha—“She’d been brought up in the tradition of self-reliance, but had the misfortune of being pretty and had allowed herself to be subjected to the wills of alpha makes ever since high school, losing, most of her self-esteem in the process.”--are interesting and work. These are not ordinary characters. Each is multi-dimensional and realistic in the sense of them being intelligent people who would want to personally know.“

The exception to this is Sean’s “relationship” and interaction, which never quite works. Even the dialogue between them always seems off-balance. The character of “Velvet,” really never comes across as real or dimensional. It’s almost as if McCafferty needed the character for the plot, but never really liked her or knew what do to with her.

Although most people think of fishing simply as simply a sport, we don’t often think of just how big a business it is, and how much revenue it generates from the offshoot business that support it. 

The Royal Wulff Murders” is very much a book for those who fish, but there is a decent mystery there and some very good, layered characters. I am happy to report that the next book shows marked improvement.

THE ROYAL WULFF MURDERS (PI – Sean Stranahan – Montana – Contemp) – Okay
McCafferty, Keith – 1st in series
Penguin Books - January 201

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