Mystery writers come out of the woods

It would seem that more and more mystery writers whose books are set in the great outdoors (or plots involve fly fishing) are coming out of the woods, so to speak. Last week, I did a column on female murder mystery writers. This week it’s male murder mystery writers. Either way, there are a lot of really good, well- written, interesting murder mystery books out there that take in the wilds.

David Leitz’s (Fly Fishing Can Be Fatal, Dying to Fly Fish, Casting in Dead Waters, Hooked on Death and The Fly Fishing Corpse) main character, Max Addams, runs the Whitefork Fishing Lodge.

What can I say? I only wish it were me.

During the course of his day, Addams fly fishes, unravels murder mysteries and works hard to save his favourite trout streams. His books are interesting, witty and, well, for some reason I just relate to them.

John Galligan (The Nail Knot and The Blood Knot) is another murder mystery writer who incorporates fly fishing into his books. His main character, Ned “Dog” Oglivie is a dedicated fly fisherman in Wisconsin who, while fishing, also happens to stumble upon the occasional dead body and subsequently has to solve the mystery and find the killer … “and in doing so, comes to rediscover what it means to care about another human being, whether living or dead. The Nail Knot is a terrific mystery that rivets the readers attention from beginning to end.”

Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series of murder mysteries (A Cold day in Paradise, Winter of the Wolf Moon, North of Nowhere, Blood in the Sky, Misery Bay and The Hunting Wind) take place in and around the small, rural town of Paradise on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – mostly in winter. They are gritty, fast-paced and a great read for cold winter nights or weekends out at the lake.

To say that C. J. Box’s books (Force Of Nature, Cold Wind, Blood Trail, Open Season and Winterkill) are clever or well-written would not do them justice. To say they are a wild ride, riveting and a force of nature themselves would be a bit more accurate. Box’s main character, game warden Joe Pickett, is the antithesis of most modern murder mystery protagonists. For one thing, he is happily married with two daughters. For another, he does not have excess emotional baggage or a dark past that haunts him. Pickett works hard and tries sincerely, to do the right thing. He doesn’t talk much. He’s a lousy shot. He’s human, and real, which means he sometimes screws up.

Most of Phillip R Craig’s books (A Beautiful Place To Die, The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea, Off Season, First Light and Vineyard Blues) are set in the Martha’s Vineyard area. They involve interesting plots, fishing, real characters and fishing. What more can I say?

Ken Goddard (Prey, Wildfire, Double Blind, First Evidence and Outer Perimeter) is the lab director of the National Fish and Wildlife Laboratory in Oregon – the only wildlife forensics crime lab in the United States. While most of his books are set in the wild, some have an other-worldly twist. I highly recommend First Evidence and its sequel Outer Perimeter.

Mark Sullivan only has two murder mystery books that I know of, Purification Ceremony and Ghost Dance. What a shame. Both are great reads, that like Goddard’s, have a bit of a supernatural twist.

The one mystery, to me at least, that has arisen out of writing the last two columns about murder mystery writers is  how many more female writers there are than men. The must be 20 times more really good female writers who books are set in outdoor environs. But, like I said at the beginning – either way, there are a lot of really good, murder mysteries out there.

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