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The Royal Wulff Murders (Sean Stranahan #1)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  362 ratings  ·  99 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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Viking
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Wicked Eddies by Beth GroundwaterDead Angler by Victoria HoustonDead Frenzy by Victoria HoustonThe Gray Ghost Murders by Keith McCaffertyThe Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty
Best Fly Fishing Mysteries
5th out of 42 books — 4 voters
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Fiction Novels for the Outdoorsman
68th out of 75 books — 16 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 786)
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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 Sheri
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas Cook
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
J.F. Juzwik
Mar 10, 2014 J.F. Juzwik rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Donna Siebold
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!
Thomas Hart
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.
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
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.
I actually found this at the dollar store. I was waiting on a friend so I started reading it while sitting in my car. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Keith McCafferty should be a good writer as he is an editor at Field and Stream magazine - and he is. There is a lot of information on fly fishing and fly tying but not enough to turn off the average reader. I usually have ideas on "who done what" but this one keeps you guessing for quite some time. I liked the main character, Sean Stranahan. Hopefully ...more
This is McCafferty's first novel. He was or is the editor of Field and Stream magazine. Oh, boy. It's crazy, but all of that fly fishing, Montana waters, mountains, and earthy folk really gets you going. And keeps you reading. The characters are interesting and very well-developed. The protagonist, a fisherman, detective, and artist is a very complicated guy who survives many mishaps, some really imaginative ones, and makes you want to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to ...more
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
I'm guilty of rating a book I didn't finish. I didn't think it was bad enough to qualify for my no star-couldn't-finish-upon-pain-of-death category but it still couldn't hold my attention. The author is an editor for Field and Stream and should be commended for not letting his knowledge of fishing overwhelm the story. Plenty of writer-experts do that. My issue with this book is that is just wasn't flowing. I had the feeling that several books down the road I might enjoy this character and author ...more
This is a really high quality mystery series. I accidentally read the third book in the series first but it didn't matter too much. McCafferty brings the Montana setting to life--outdoor lovers (and people who like Nevada Barr mysteries) will love these books. The author is the editor of Field and Stream magazine, and he knows what he's talking about. I really like his characters, and the story moves at a relaxed pace, while maintaining interest. I'm looking forward to reading others in the seri ...more
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
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
Royal Wulff Murders, The Keith McCafferty
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
Brian Blocker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynette Anderson
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
Aug 07, 2013 Sam rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked most of the characters (except Vareda). I liked the setting. I liked most of the plot, although it just seemed to take too long to get there. Sometimes it seemed like there was a prequel I had missed reading. But mostly what I didn't like was the language of fly fishing. I grew up with fishermen and women. I've done my share of fishing -- and love it. Although I never learned to fly fish, my father and his parents did. My father tied his own flies. ...more
This is #1 in the Sean Stranahan series I recently discovered. I read #4 1st, so it was fun to see how McCafferty develops his colorful characters. Sean is new to Montana, from Boston/Vermont. So he gets to know his new home while helping the local sheriff solve some suspicious deaths. The fishing runs deep in this series, its an obsession for some. Complete w/ crazy guys from Alaska!
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
Not a bad mystery novel, but I could have done without all of the long and boring explanations on fly ties and stuff about fishing and the trouts and the disease and the lakes, etc, etc.
But, overall it was a nice debut and one can tell the author loves fishing. I did like the main characters and that it was not sappy.
Keith McCafferty was my college roommate and still is a good friend, so it was with great joy that I read his first novel. Some of the characters have names and personalities like some of the folks that we went to school with, but Keith has a great way with words. His development of his characters his superb, even if his plot development seemed a bit sluggish. Keith is an avid fly fisherman, and this book will appeal to those who share his passion. There were many references to fly fishing that ...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 (4 books)
  • The Gray Ghost Murders (Sean Stranahan, #2)
  • Dead Man's Fancy (Sean Stranahan, #3)
  • Crazy Mountain Kiss (Sean Stranahan, #4)
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