A hot August afternoon and Midwest Clinic CEO John McNeil has been working late. Working on his latest conquest, that is. Jen Williams is twenty-six, in charge of graphics for the hospital's PR division—and quite attractive in a healthy, athletic kind of way. She is quick to laugh and a little too quick to fall for guys. She is no virgin. And she is one of three women—including his wife—intimately familiar with McNeil.
When Jen's youthful body is found with a single stab wound through the heart, suspicion falls on both McNeil's wife, who insists she is being stalked, and the striking hospital physician with whom he had just ended an affair. Pressure to find the killer falls on Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn "Lew" Ferris and Dr. Paul "Doc" Osborne, the retired dentist and forensic dental expert whom she has deputized to help with the investigation—when they are not taking a break for fishing and other personal pursuits. When the mayor demands Lew take early retirement—and Doc has to babysit his teenage granddaughter who won't stop texting—the frustrations mount.
Desperate for a few hours off—and persuaded by Ray Pradt (a fishing guide who wears a stuffed trout on his head, so they should have known better)—to try fly fishing from kayaks, Doc and Lew find themselves in life-and-death straits on the river. This leads to an unexpected and macabre discovery that just may break the case.
She is the author of the Loon Lake Mystery Series -- DEAD ANGLER, DEAD CREEK, DEAD WATER, DEAD FRENZY, DEAD HOT MAMA, DEAD JITTERBUG, DEAD BOOGIE, DEAD MADONNA, DEAD HOT SHOT, DEAD RENEGADE. DEAD DECEIVER, DEAD TEASE, DEAD INSIDER, DEAD HUSTLER, DEAD RAPUNZEL, DEAD LOUDMOUTH, DEAD SPIDER, DEAD FIREFLY, DEAD BIG DAWG and WOLF HOLLOW in hardcover, trade paperback and as an eBook from Simon & Schuster. The mysteries are set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin against a background of fishing – fly fishing as well as fishing for muskie, bass, bluegill and walleyes. Houston’s mystery series was featured in a story on the front page of The Wall Street Journal (January 20, 2004) and on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation with Neal Conan” (February 2, 2006). Both can be seen/heard on the website: www.victoriahouston.com.
She has also written or co-authored over seven non-fiction books. An award-winning author specializing in family issues, Houston’s non-fiction books include the highly recommended ALONE AFTER SCHOOL: A Self-Care Guide for Latchkey Children and Their Parents (Prentice Hall, 1985); the national bestseller, LOVING A YOUNGER MAN: How Women Are Finding and Enjoying a Better Relationship (Contemporary Books (1987); Pocket Books (1988); MAKING IT WORK: Finding the Time and Energy For Your Career, Marriage, Children and Self (Contemporary Books, 1990) -- which was published by Simon & Schuster's Fireside imprint in August 1991 as a trade paperback titled MAKING IT WORK: Creative Solutions For Balancing Your Career, Marriage, Children And Personal Life. Houston co-authored RESTORE YOURSELF: A Woman’s Guide to Reviving Her Libido and Passion for Life (The Berkley Publishing Group/2001) with Dr. James Simon, a Past President of the North American Menopause Society.
A quick listen at 5 hrs 30 min. The identity of the murderer totally surprised me. Overall an enjoyable visit with Doc, Ray & Lew. One of my favorite narrators, Jennifer Van Dyck, performs this series. (Mild language, no gratuitous descriptions.)
For a charming little resort town, Wisconsin’s Loon Lake certainly has more than its share of violent crime. Police chief Lew Ferris and her significant other, retired forensic dentist Doc Osborne, find themselves trying to solve the apparently motiveless murder of a young woman even as her boss’s wife is being terrified by a prowling vandal around their house at night. While I thought I had spotted the killer early on, there were a number of twists that kept the story moving.
This is the 12th mystery in this light semi-cozy outdoor series. While I have read and enjoyed several of the books and learned a bit about fresh-water fishing in the process, new readers could be a bit confused by the various relationships that have been developed in earlier books. However, for those familiar with the series it is like visiting old friends.
Victoria Houston, since the beginning of her second novel in this series, has been known to play fast and loose with the laws of physics, re-invent the details of her main characters’ backstories and completely warp the time-space continuum. But she has always crafted a fine, realistic, logical, cozy mystery with well-formed main characters in Doc Osborne, Lew Ferris and Ray Pradt.
However, in this 12th entry in the Loon Lake series, she failed miserably in both the construct of the mystery and with her characterizations of Lew and Ray. And Houston dipped even farther into Never-Never-Land in her handling of the backstories.
First, this book came in at 171 pages on the Nook app of my iPad, basically half the size of the author’s previous works. To set up and execute a murder, then to investigate and solve it requires almost double that space – if you want a mystery that doesn’t read like a cross between Cliff Notes and a newspaper article. And the Cliff Notes version is what we get, which is a shame because the first several chapters are so promising. In those chapters, Houston gives us an illicit office romance that abruptly ends with a murder-for-hire execution and that set-up turns out to be the only decent writing in the book.
Secondly, upon the discovery of the body, Houston devolves the character of Chief of Police Lew Ferris. Houston has Lew looking at the people she interviews with sympathy, admiration or confusion rather than with her normal dispassionate objectivity. The author has Lew missing items she did not ever miss in previous works. But, worst of all, Houston has Lew saying repeatedly that she would be greatly surprised if such-and-such a person had anything to do with the murder, which is incredibly uncharacteristic of Lew Ferris.
Now, I believe I know why Houston uses this particular literary device. At the time Lew starts her investigation, we already know who the murderer is and we know who hired that murderer. Therefore, every time Lew says “I’d be greatly surprised if,” we know she’s wrong and that she is definitely going to be “surprised.”
It would be a great use of the device if Lew were just a regular citizen rather than a well-trained investigator. But she’s not a regular citizen, and she is not a character who usually shuts people down when they try to bring her information. Nor is she a character – or a police chief – who has ever gone by a “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. Yet, out of the blue, Houston has her doing all of these things, without provocation, without reason and without explanation.
Thirdly, included in Houston’s destruction of a good premise is a more-than usual re-fabrication of her characters’ backstories. For instance, on one page, Houston has Doc reference the death of Lew’s son. Barely two pages later, Doc states that Lew’s son and daughter are grown up and are successful in their lives. Yet, for the last eleven books, it has been drilled into us that Lew’s son died some years ago from a knife wound in a bar fight at the age of 15. So unless Lew has a third child we have never heard about, that son did not grow up at all, let alone become a successful adult.
Next, Houston devolves Ray Pradt in a major area. Throughout the series, he has been shown to be an extremely talented tracker and guide with intimate knowledge of the area. Now, for the apparent sake of drama, Houston has Ray state that he has never been on a particular local river, and that he had no idea there were major rapids for them to capsize in. Yet, two sentences later, he tells Doc and Lew that one of his friends lives just around the next bend in the river. Now how could he know that if he had never been on that stretch of water before? And – the wording of that scene with the unexpected rapids was lifted almost verbatim from a previous novel.
Finally, the time line of the series gets jarringly re-written. First, Doc is said to have met Lew while she was a patrol officer, not chief. However, the details of their first meeting was a major part of the first novel and has been recapped in great detail in each of the following nine books. And since, in that first novel, she deputized him to work with her force only days after meeting him, she couldn’t have been a patrol officer as stated in this book.
Secondly, Houston lists three more conflicting points of chronology: Doc has worked with Lew as a deputy coroner for 3 years; Doc has been retired from his dental practice for 3 years; and Ray is 32 years old. While the first fact seems true based on series progression, the second and third cannot possibly be true unless everything Houston established in the first book of the series is a hallucination.
For instance, as we begin the first book in the series, Doc has already been retired for 3 years, his wife dead for two of those years, before he even meets Lew on that river for his first fly-fishing lesson. So, simple math makes Doc a retiree for 6 years, not 3. And, according to the first book, Ray is 32 years old when Doc meets Lew. Yet Ray is still 32 years old, after Doc has been working with Lew for 3 years. Nope, don’t think so.
These time-space jumps are obvious, incredibly annoying, and disrupt the flow of the story. Quite frankly, Houston needs to develop a consistent narrative for her characters’ backstories and quit changing major points from book to book and within the same book.
Up to this point I have been reading the series for two reasons, despite Houston’s foibles with backstory and time line. First, the series was a gift to me by someone dear and I would never dishonor the gift or the giver by not reading the books. Secondly, the mysteries have always been well-crafted and the characterizations such that Doc, Lew and Ray come across as competent investigators and feel like friends.
However, I have only one book remaining in the gift. And if Houston continues to maul those characterizations and short change the quality of the investigations, then that book will likely be the last Houston novel in my library. Even if that entry does return to Houston’s previous level of mystery writing, based on past experience, I will probably, for any future novels, choose a public library copy over personal funds potentially wasted.
I probably got this for free, but it's apparently not a good book to start the series with: too much backstory and complex relationships that don't read well for someone new to the series. Except I don't plan to read any other books in the series. Too many characters to keep straight. I don't mind pov switching, but it's confusing here. And too much telling-not-showing, since Houston tries to fill in readers with everything that's happened so far.
Probably works better if you've been reading all the books in order. I won't be doing that.
Ok, here we go with continuity issues again. A few books back, we read that Doc's wife apparently told daughter Mallory she was making a mistake in marrying her husband and did so on the night before Mallory's wedding. In this book, it was Doc who apparently told Mallory that she was making a mistake, and his wife liked Mallory's husband to be.
How many years apart were these books written, and does the author not keep track of what she has previously written?
I’ve been reading this series from the beginning. Just when I thought they were getting formulaic the author begins this one from the view of the killer. While there was a slight doubt along the way between two women as the killers, in the end the whole book was about how the murder would be solved. It was a nice change.
Jen Williams is killed. She had been having an affair with Dr. John McNeil. McNeil's wife, the lead suspect, also is being stalked. Can Doc Osborne and Chief Ferris figure out who is behind it before more people die?
Love this series. Combines police work in small town with fly fishing. Like the characters.
not labeled as part of a series, would benefit from backstory, but a quick mystery read set in the Northwoods using colloquialisms this near-northwoods person has never heard. "who done it" is not foreshadowed too much, so the reveal is rather fun, but all the rest of the time the characters didn't grab me as interesting
Lew & Doctor Osborne are called to the scene of a young woman's murder; one fatal knife stab into the heart... A vicious crime and even more viciously flaming crazy characters.... A philandering husband gaslighting his wife, a lot of fishing, and an odd ending.
I'm thinking had I read this first, I might not have read any others.
Another fun and fast reading book in the series. As mentioned by others the timeline in this book does not necessarily live up with the timeline of the series, which can be annoying. For a small town in WI there sure are a lot of murders - and gruesome ones too.
A hot August afternoon and Midwest Clinic CEO John McNeil has been working late. Working on his latest conquest, that is. Jen Williams is twenty-six, in charge of graphics for the hospital’s PR division–and quite attractive in a healthy, athletic kind of way. She is quick to laugh and a little too quick to fall for guys. She is no virgin. And she is one of three women–including his wife–intimately familiar with McNeil.
When Jen’s youthful body is found with a single stab wound through the heart, suspicion falls on both McNeil’s wife, who insists she is being stalked, and the striking hospital physician with whom he had just ended an affair. Pressure to find the killer falls on Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris and Dr. Paul “Doc” Osborne, the retired dentist and forensic dental expert whom she has deputized to help with the investigation–when they are not taking a break for fishing and other personal pursuits. When the mayor demands Lew take early retirement–and Doc has to babysit his teenage granddaughter who won’t stop texting–the frustrations mount.
Desperate for a few hours off–and persuaded by Ray Pradt (a fishing guide who wears a stuffed trout on his head, so they should have known better)–to try fly fishing from kayaks, Doc and Lew find themselves in life-and-death straits on the river. This leads to an unexpected and macabre discovery that just may break the case.
There was so much going on in this book, I tried a couple of times to boil it down, and there were just too many little spider legs to get it all.
Let me start with I am not normally one to pick up a book in the middle of a series, unless I don’t know it’s in the middle of the series. That was the case with this book. I had no idea it was 12th book in the Loon Lake Mystery Series. I normally feel like I’ll be so left out if I start in the middle, but Houston has written this book so well that I was not lost at all.
What I love about this book is the small-town setting. I always love reading about big cities and immersing myself into a different life, but I love even more reading books about small towns, like the one I live in. I feel like I don’t have to do much dreaming, I just imagine it taking place in my town.
This book wasn’t long, but it didn’t need to be. There was such passion behind the crimes committed in this book, it just intensified the plot and kept me turning the pages until I got to the end and finally the criminals were unveiled.
I loved the relationship between the two main characters in this book, Doc and Lew and love the female empowerment of Lew being the police chief and the struggle she faces to be a woman in such a high position. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do to get up to date on with the releases of this series, but I think it’s definitely worth the catching up on.
And hopefully through this series, I’ll be able to learn a little more about fly fishing, an obsession of my uncle’s. Maybe I can learn enough in this series to go out with him on a trip I love learning about real life in novels and trying to incoporate it. Let’s just hope Houston knows as much about fly fishing as I’m giving her credit for!
I think that it is time for Doc and Lew to hang up the lures!
I have enjoyed the Loon Lake mysteries over the years even though a small town in northern Wisconsin with the murder rate of Loon Lake would be abandoned in the real world. With the most recent "mystery" set in Loon Lake requiring the talents of not only the police chief, but also a retired dentist, who has an understanding of forensic dentistry the unrealistic has reached its limit.
This story was PREDICTABLE, except for the very end, which was impossible. It lacked originality in the nature of the murder and the motive. The characters have become stilted and no longer offer insight and depth. There was decent plot development, but that was the only thing keeping this reader turning pages.
Then we get to the climax and the book just falls apart. The discovery that leads to solving the murder is not only unlikey it is crazy. The book uses this device to avoid doing any more real work to identify the culprit. I guess Ms. Houston realized that her story was so easy to predict that she just mailed in the end.
I am done reading about Loon Lake. Doc hope you make an honest woman out of Lew and you both enjoy many trips fly fishing on the lakes and rivers of Northern Wisconsin.
"Dead Tease" starts off with the murder of an attractive young woman, committed by a man she's never met. Loon Lake Police Chief Lew Ferris and her boyfriend Paul Osborne (a forensic odontologist who used to be the town dentist) begin investigating. Why an odontologist is required when the victim is readily identified is beyond me ... and that is the place that the story first goes south for me.
The "whodunnit" became ridiculously clear during the first third of the book. Now, in fairness, I read a great many police procedurals (along with majoring in forensic anthropology) and have a good eye for figuring out the mystery. It could just be me, as the old saying goes.
There is also some Wisconsin-specific slang that is never clearly explained ("razzbonya" and "jabones," for example), which I had to work out from context.
The book is a short read, at 174 pages. What's sad to me is that the story had so much potential and just fell short of the mark.
Victoria Houston's series involves Wisconsin, fish, murder, and fly-fishing. Strictly speaking you do not need to care a bit about fly fishing - the sport is there, aficionados will be teased by the champion muskies and handtied flies but those who prefer their fish cleaned and cooked can still enjoy it. Especially in the company of Ray Pradt....
Several women are intimately acquainted with the handsome clinic director, but only one of them ends up murdered. And off we go.
I really love the way Ms Houston uses the setting, the characters, and humor in this series.