Murder She Wrote meets Fargo in the eighteenth installment of Victoria Houston’s “engaging” (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine) and critically acclaimed mystery series set in the northwoods of Wisconsin.
"My wife and Gordon Maxwell tried to kill me this morning."
Doc Osborne is startled by the unexpected words tumbling out of the mouth of his friend and fellow AA member Chuck Pelletier, the recently remarried lead accountant for a planned luxury fly-fishing lodge preserve under construction in the area.
Alarmed, Doc tries to alert Police Chief Lew Ferris, but she is tied up with law enforcement teams across the state. They’re searching for thieves who have been cutting down and stealing hundreds of thousands of precious birch trees from public and private property across northern Wisconsin.
But it’s too late. Pelletier is found dead not two hours later. Doc is shocked, saddened, and determined to get to the bottom of the murder.
With one man dead, evidence of lakeshore properties being stolen from elderly owners, and an attempted sexual assault, short-handed Chief Ferris deputizes Doc and his skilled tracker neighbor to help with the investigation. Then, just as they seem to be getting somewhere, things grow even more complicated.
Just another summer in Loon Lake.
In Houston's agreeable 18th Loon Lake mystery (after 2017's Dead Spider), Loon Lake, Wis., police chief Lewellyn "Lew" Ferris faces a number of interrelated challenges. First, someone is cutting down and stealing groves of birch trees from private land, including her own. Second, Lorraine Gropengeiser, Lew's elderly former mother-in-law, has been scammed out of her house and land. Third, Lew's lover, retired dentist Paul "Doc" Osborne, is worried about fellow AA member Chuck Pelletier. Chuck has told Doc that his new wife, Patti, and developer Gordon Maxwell are trying to kill him. When Doc discovers Chuck lying dead on the floor in an old barn Chuck used as a retreat, Lew has a murder case on her hands. An empty whiskey bottle next to the body suggests Chuck was drinking, but Doc is sure his friend didn't touch a drop. Justice proves elusive as the three investigative strands converge on an unexpectedly poetic ending. Fans of regional mysteries will find plenty to like. \n