Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dead Spider (Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries)

Author:  Victoria Houston
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781440598807
Tyrus Books
208 Pages
$16.48; $12.99 Amazon
June 6, 2017


A lovely Sunday afternoon in late June and the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close.  People are happy, kids full of ice cream and teenagers setting off firecrackers so loud no one hears the gunshot.  But when the crowd thins out an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the brain has killed her much-older husband-the richest man in Wisconsin.

Just as Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris gets the murder investigation underway, her good friend and deputy coroner, "Doc" Osborne, is alarmed to hear his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting.

And Loon Lake's idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in Loon Lake's nursing home discover they have been robbed.


On a sunny summer afternoon the town of Loon Lake, Wisconsin is having fun at the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament.  The tournament is sponsored by Chuck Pfeiffer, owner of a chain of sporting stores across several states.  Chuck, possessor of a young wife and an unsavory past isn't well-liked; and this is never more apparent than when, shortly after the tournament ends, he is found slumped in his chair - under a bright yellow awning - dead; shot in the head at close range.

Not the end to the fishing tournament that Police Chief Lew Ferris expected - especially since the dead man was the richest man in Wisconsin, and a friend of the mayor.  So Lew is given extra funds to find the killer of Pfeiffer, and fast.  Along with Dr. Paul 'Doc' Osborne, retired dentist, part-time deputy coroner and longtime close friend, she also has the help of Bruce Peters, a forensic specialist with the Wausau Crime Lab.

But finding Chuck's killer isn't going to be easy.  There are plenty of people who wouldn't mind seeing an end to him; he'd done nothing in his life but take what he wanted, even if it meant destroying others to do so.  No, he wasn't liked by many, but still he was dead and it was Lew's job to find out who pulled the trigger.

But Doc has more on his plate when his fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Beth, is caught with her friends who were trying to buy drugs.  Even though she's cleared of any wrongdoing herself, she makes an ill-advised statement that could lead to trouble later on down the line.  Unfortunately, Beth thinks she has to handle it on her own since she knows she made a mistake and doesn't want to admit it to her family.

Then it's discovered that a local nursing home was burglarized, with guns, money, and jewelry being stolen, and with the murder front and central, Lew is beginning to stretch herself pretty thin, not to mention it isn't helping Doc since he's also trying to give Lew a very special birthday present and hopes he'll have it in time - but with an unsolved murder in view, Lew and Doc are going to have to do some fishing of their own to expose a killer...

As the 17th book in the Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries, Dead Spider proves that long-running series do not always wind up lifeless.  Ms. Jackson's characters are human and with each new book we see a different side to the characters making them believable and real.  Doc's feelings for Lew run deep and while we know she feels the same for him, Lew keeps a tighter hold on her emotions.  But it is quite a bit of fun to watch Ray Pradt, Doc's neighbor and local fishing guide, while he tries to convince a woman he's fallen for that fishing is actually a good thing.

When the ending comes and the murderer is finally revealed, it is at the same time rather sad yet understood.  I would like to say more, but in doing so I am afraid it would give away the answers, and this I will not do.  Suffice it to say that the ending is very good indeed, and makes us realize why we keep reading the books in this series - they are written well and Ms. Houston never disappoints.  Highly recommended.

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