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The Royal Wulff Murders (Sean Stranahan #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  679 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
A clever and fast-paced murder mystery full of wit, suspense, and fly fishing.

When a fishing guide reels in the body of a young man on the Madison, the Holy Grail of Montana trout rivers, Sheriff Martha Ettinger suspects foul play. It's not just the stick jammed into the man's eye that draws her attention; it's the Royal Wulff trout fly stuck in his bloated lower lip. Fo
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Viking
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(showing 1-30)
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I read this book way back April/May, but never really got to writing a review for it. I was looking for a new series to read and this one seemed like a good choice since I got Longmire vibes when it came to the story. Well, it got a sheriff and it takes place in Montana. Also, I was hoping to get approved for the latest book in the series so I bought this one so I had some back story to the latest one if I got approved, which I did.

The body of a young man is reeled in by a fishing guide and Sher
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Deb
Feb 20, 2012 Deb rated it really liked it
When I received a copy of The Royal Wulff Murders as a first-reads giveaway through Goodreads, I was delighted to be chosen for a thriller. Once I read it, I was even more thrilled! Keith McCafferty did an incredible job in the writing of the book, and I thank him for sharing his dream with us bibliophiles!

I only gave this one 4 stars because 4.5 was not an option, and I couldn't bring myself to give it 5. For someone who is an avid angler and loves a great thriller/mystery - this is THE book fo
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James
Feb 21, 2012 James rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaway-wins
I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program (giveaway). The book was well written and the story was good but I really struggled to get through this one. The story centered around two subjects that are near the top of my "subjects that I know the least about" list. First, the main character is an artist. I can tell the difference between a painting and a sculpture, barely. I certainly don't know anything about badger hair brushes or why they are important to art or anything ...more
LJ
First Sentence: The fishing guide known as Rainbow Sam found the body.

The body of a young man with a Royal Wulff trout fly through his lip is retrieved from a log jam, but that’s not what killed him. Sherriff Martha Ettinger, along with ex-PI, painter, fly-fisher Sean Stranahan, look to find the killer amid the very big-money fly-fishing business of Montana.

From the very beginning, we are made aware of McCafferty’s humour—“The client, whose largest trout to date had been the size of a breakfast
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Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Fishing, fly or in any other variety, is not my thing at all. Heck, I hardly even eat fish, mostly only under duress. I am perfectly happy to let them keep doing their thing. Nor do I have any desire to ever go fishing myself. Mysteries aren't my preferred reading either. But I try to be somewhat open-minded about my reading choices, so when the lure of a fly fishing mystery was dropped in front of me, I bit.

Should I have? Maybe not. The opening parts were definitely hard on me. There was so muc
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Kristen
Feb 23, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it
At first it was really hard to get into this book because of fishing lingo, but once I got past page thirty, I was totally emerged in the Royal Wulff Murders. I like to fish, but I am by no means a fisherwoman. I just enjoyed the mystery of the people dying and the odd details that accompany the murders. I was engaged and curious throughout the book. It was also really exciting that the setting is placed in real cities in Montana, and I felt that I got a country/rural perspective for this city ...more
Lindig
Apr 15, 2012 Lindig rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I'm not sure what I think of this book. The "how to fish" info was very interesting, and I would have liked more data on fly-tying. The mystery was interesting but not viscerally engaging, partially because of the characters involved. Everybody seemed as though I were watching them behind a scrim, that no matter what they said or what was said about them, their essences were at a remove. This is especially true of Vareda, the main character's love interest, whom the author seems to have worked e ...more
Kathy
Feb 02, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
The Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty

I can answer the question if a non-flyfishing read would enjoy “The Royal Wulff Muders” by Keith McCafferty.

The answer is a resounding YES!

But, it may help if you also enjoy a thrilling murder mystery, the Yellowstone area, the Rocky Mountain life, and the intrigue of several interesting women chasing the former private eye who now lives the artsy life near Ennis, Montana.

This is a well-written page turner set in one of hte greatest places in North Am
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Donna Siebold
Aug 09, 2013 Donna Siebold rated it it was ok
I inadvertently read the second of this series before this the first. The second book makes several references to happenings in the first book. I thought the first book would really flesh out these happenings, unfortunately, this was not the case. Only one happening is especially detailed. I found many of the characters flat and one-sided and the big reveal at the end was obvious from about five chapters earlier. He does do a great job of describing fly fishing and its accroutements!
Heather O'Leary
Sep 29, 2015 Heather O'Leary rated it it was ok
I initially picked up the book because I love mysteries and the book takes place where I grew up. Some of the locations were fictionalized versions of places that I remember from childhood. The author is a fly fisherman and he writes very detailed passages about fly fishing, which would appeal to other fly fisherpeople. Unfortunately, the story and characters failed to grip me and I quit half-way through.
Thomas Hart
Feb 28, 2012 Thomas Hart rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I love the characters, especially the fishing guide Rainbow Sam, and I love the setting. When it's at its best, The Royal Wulff Murders is a page-turning thrill to read, and luckily for the reader that holds true pretty much the wohle book. I've been lucky enough to fish in Montana many times in my life, and this book brings that beautiful state and its fantastic rivers vividly to life--well, and to death. It is a heck of a murder mystery, after all.
Donna Brown
Jan 04, 2015 Donna Brown rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Decided that I wasn't going to continue reading. Anyone who loves to fish will probably like this book. I like to fish but I realized I like to sit with my feet in a stream and dream about nothing. When the fish strikes, it makes my day. I don't want to think about fishing a body out of a stream.
Pamela
Feb 16, 2014 Pamela rated it it was ok
It wasn't a bad little cozy, but neither was it a very good one. Pretty much "meh" all around. As I'm neither a fly fisherman nor interested in becoming one, I doubt I'll read any more of this series.
Leslie
Jul 23, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
I just loved the heck out of this book..there wasn't a page I didn't enjoy. Heck, Big Sky country, a mystery, a lady sheriff, fishing and love. What's not to like? And p.s., you don't have to know one end of a pole from the other to like this mystery.
Cynthiaj
Jan 25, 2017 Cynthiaj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Still unsure about this one. Kind of saw the bad guy coming as well as the outcome. Also, didn't want the protagonist to get in bed with the one he gets in bed with. Oh well. Entertaining enough getting to/from work.
Christine
May 09, 2017 Christine rated it really liked it
Learned alot about Montana fishing!
Christine
Nov 27, 2011 Christine rated it liked it
In the small town of Bridger, Montana, Rainbow Sam and his client snag more than trout on their fishing trip. Instead of a trophy trout, they hook a dead body! Sheriff Martha Ettinger and her deputy Walter Hess try to determine if the young man drowned accidentally or if it was murder. In the meantime, Sean Stranahan, artist and part-time PI, is hired by a mysterious singer from Mississippi to find the location her late father had gone fishing the year before so she can spread his ashes in that ...more
Brian Blocker
Jan 27, 2012 Brian Blocker rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
LORI CASWELL
Feb 17, 2012 LORI CASWELL rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
The “Holy Grail” of trout rivers in Montana is the Madison River. It is here that a fishing guide reels in quite a catch. A dead body with a Royal Wulff trout fly through his lower lip and a stick in his eye. Obviously an easily explained drowning. Not so fast, Sheriff Martha Ettinger thinks there is more to the story. While questioning other fishermen she meets Sean Stranahan, a former private detective, painter and fly fisherman would has moved to Montana to escape his life back East and pursu ...more
Grey853
Jul 17, 2015 Grey853 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.F. Juzwik
Mar 08, 2014 J.F. Juzwik rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who appreciate strong characters and well crafted mysteries
This is Keith McCafferty's first novel with character Sean Stranahan. I read The Gray Ghost Murders (his second novel) before this one and enjoyed it tremendously. I was well into The Gray Ghost Murders before I realized it was the second in the series. But since it was so impressive, I decided to go back and read this one.

Sometimes not reading a series in order can mess up the story, but not in this case. Going back in time story-wise, what happened here is simply that you get to know all the
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Lynette Anderson
Feb 16, 2012 Lynette Anderson rated it it was amazing
I received (very happily, I might add) this book as a free Goodreads giveaway. I loved this mystery! Lots of mysteries litter my bookshelves, and I'm a sucker for any story that takes place outdoors. Keith McCafferty does a wonderful job creating characters that I ended up caring about - Rainbow Sam, a "colorful" fishing guide; Sean Shanahan, a private investigator/artist/angler, and Sheriff Ettinger, a woman trying to cope in a male dominated career. This book took a little longer for me to rea ...more
Rhonda
Mar 06, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Royal Wulff Murders, The Keith McCafferty
4 STARS
The only complaints that I have for this story is swearing and too much about fly fishing for me. The Mystery was well written and kept me guessing who and why for the murder.
I like the range of characters, Also it left open for possible future stories.
Rainbow Sam a fishing guide was in a boat with a client fly fishing, when the client finally caught something. A dead body.
Sean Stranahan is new to Montana. He is now a painter but he was a private
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David
Feb 14, 2017 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read. For his first in the series, an excellent start. Kept me guessing right up to the end.

Thomas Cook
Jul 16, 2015 Thomas Cook rated it really liked it
I always wanted to be a trout fisherman, but the opportunity (and the patience) have never quite appeared for me. This mystery, set in and around Bridger, Montana, gave me a good feel for the joys and travails of being a fly fisherman. It's a classic detective novel that starts with a dead body (with a Royal Wulff fly stuck in the victim's lip), surprising plot twists, colorful characters, and even a femme fatale. There's some nice humor in it, engaging descriptions of the Madison River, and eve ...more
Kalena
Jan 01, 2016 Kalena rated it really liked it
Non-fiction/Mystery; first book read by this author. This book was recommended repeatedly to us since we fly-fish, tie flies, and have seriously considered moving to Montana. I love to trout fish and spend time outdoors, so naturally we would enjoy books in this vein (think C.J. Box or Craig Johnson). I mostly liked this book. Here are my issues (yes, they may well be mine alone): Swearing, sexual references/crude humor--I am well aware these are often found in this type of setting, but still it ...more
Andrew
Sep 17, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: ucbc
If you know that "Royal Wulff" is a type of fishing fly (I didn't) then you won't be surprised that this is a mystery set in the (exciting and fast-paced?) world of fly fishing.

But don't let that scare you off if - like me - your sum total of angling knowledge was gleaned from drowning worms as a kid bobbering for bluegills in the Wildlife Pond, or occasionally plunking a rooster-tail or two with the ol' Zebco.

A-River-Runs-Through-It-types will certainly enjoy this book, but the good news is, so
...more
Viccy
Sam Meslik, a fishing guide, discovers a body in the Missouri River while out with a client one afternoon. Sean Stranahan is a artist who fled a broken marriage in Vermont in order to paint and fish in Montana. Now he paints at the Bridger Mountain Cultural Center and lives out of his Land Cruiser, trying to survive. On the door of his studio, he claims to be a private investigator, which he was, back in Massachusetts. A beautiful woman walks into his studio a few days after Sam finds the body a ...more
Sam
Aug 07, 2013 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I was surprised by this book, seeing as I have no interest in nor knowledge of fishing be it fly or ice. A royal wulff is a type of fly used for fly fishing and that is basically where the relevance of the title ends, but this first in a series, by McCafferty, is set in Madison Valley Montana, where fly fishing is big business. Sean Stranahan is a new in town, a recent transplant from the east coast, hoping to escape an old love and his old P.I. life and concentrate on painting and fishing. When ...more
Chris
Jan 03, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-montana
If you fish you will love this book. If you like mysteries you just have to wade (pun intended) through all the fish talk. You learn a lot about trout and Montana and more than you want to know about fly fishing. Who knew there was something called whirling disease decimating indigenous trout populations? That was an interesting aspect of the plot that when combined with greed and the quest for fame with a little mental health issue thrown in kept me turning the pages. There's also an unlikely h ...more
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Keith McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Grays Sporting Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globehe recently spent a month in India ...more
More about Keith McCafferty...

Other Books in the Series

Sean Stranahan (6 books)
  • The Gray Ghost Murders (Sean Stranahan, #2)
  • Dead Man's Fancy (Sean Stranahan, #3)
  • Crazy Mountain Kiss (Sean Stranahan, #4)
  • Buffalo Jump Blues (Sean Stranahan #5)
  • Cold Hearted River (Sean Stranahan #6)

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