I've enjoyed Victoria Houston's Loon Lake mystery series ever since I first discovered it at a Boulder Junction bookstore. What could be better for an avid reader, Northwoods
lover like me than a mystery series set in the mythical Wisconsin town of Loon Lake. Loon Lake is close enough to Rhinelander, Minocqua, and Lake Tomahawk to make me think it might just be down the road from our cabin. And while I love the fishing scenes that pop up in every book, I certainly don't want the "dead bodies" also there to transfer to my real world. That part of the fiction can stay right there!! In her latest book, Houston takes us to a remote trout stream in the Nicolet National Forest. Liam, a graduate student and environmental studies intern, has stolen away to try some peaceful fly fishing when he is shot. Within days, his father Jake is in the Northwoods, seeking help from Police Chief Lew Ferris and her staff in locating his missing son. When it appears that Liam may have last been in an area known to be wolf territory and is also near the same river where a missing snowmobiler's body was discovered, Lew begins to suspect this is more than a college kid gone astray for a few days.
Retired dentist Paul Osborne makes a major appearance in all Loon Lake mysteries. With his dental expertise, he often does forensic work for the police department, but it is his personal relationship with Lew that keeps things interesting. Past losses and a shared love for fly fishing keep the two close. Providing local color with a smidgen of comic relief is Ray, the fishing guide who lives next to Osborne. Let's just say that Ray hears the beat of a different drummer, making the Northwoods a great place for him to be! While both Paul and Ray are again called upon to help Lew in her missing persons cases, Osborne must first give priority to supporting his daughter and son-in-law as their young son is hospitalized with a mysterious illness, one Paul fears is meningitis.
Dead Lil' Hustler breaks the calm of the Northwoods with a marijuana ring, bank fraud, infidelity, and jealous revenge. Although I really liked the book, I don't like admitting that within the past year, I've seen actual newspaper headlines for all of these activities in my precious Northwoods. Knowing that Houston lives in the Rhinelander area, I can be sure that our author has seen the same headlines and that fact may be fueling her fiction endeavors.