Book Review: Dead Loudmouth by Victoria Houston

dead-loudmouthDead Loudmouth
Loon Lake Mystery Series #16
Victoria Houston
Tyrus Books, June 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4405-6845-9
ISBN 978-1-4405-6844-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher: It’s a bright summer morning in Loon Lake when Police Chief Lewellyn (“Lew”) Ferris is called to the scene of a horrific accident that occurred in the dead of night at a local “gentlemen’s club.” The club is owned by one of the victims, a member of the private Deer Creek Fishing and Hunting Club and the scion of a wealthy Wisconsin family.  When the country coroner is unavailable due to a car accident, Chief Ferris deputizes her close friend and fellow fly-fisherman, retired dentist “Doc” Osborne, to step in.  Osborne’s discovery of mysterious footprints confirms Chief Ferris’ suspicions.  This is no accident; it’s murder.  Leaning on Doc Osborne for his forensic and interrogation skills, Lew also hopes to enlist the help of Ray Pradt, fishing guide and expert tracker.  But Ray’s time is limited as he is coaching Wisconsin State College’s fishing team in a muskie fishing tournament.  Things get complicated when Doc Osborne’s granddaughter disappears on the first day of the tournament.  Sunny June days turn dark as a desperate search ensues.

Lew’s ability to investigate the murders is hampered by the fact that she has only two full-time officers on her staff; and the assistance of Doc, Lew’s deputy coroner, is enabled primarily because he was the mayor’s brother-in-law. She finds no shortage of suspects, at least with regard to the dead woman; the second victim not so much.  The Deer Creek Club is a fascinating entity:  A private preserve, with three private lakes stocked with some of the Northwoods’ largest walleye and bass, it is off-limits to locals, including employees, it is comprised of over a thousand acres where never a living tree has been cut down.

The setting is lovingly made palpable.  Fishing is the background music running through the tale, as a preoccupation of the characters and most of the local residents.  The characters are wonderfully vivid as well, especially Doc’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Mason.  The plot is well-developed, and the novel as a whole is a perfect beach read; for those whose summer days include fishing, even more so.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2016.