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A Los Angeles Times Page-Turner

"...populated with sympathetic, well-drawn characters... ouston also delivers beautiful descriptions of the bucolic setting, along with plenty of sharply rendered fly-fishing scenes." --Booklist

It's the dead of winter in Loon Lake when a wealthy widow is run down and killed by a logging truck on an icy street. The truck driver insists he saw a man shove the woman into the path of his truck. A lone witness who may have seen the man who shoved the victim is soon found dead--drowned in icy waters where he was ice fishing. Within hours, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris finds herself dealing with malicious family members related to the dead woman, a cache of grisly paintings, and strange disturbances on the land surrounding the widow's contemporary mansion--all of which point to various people who may have wanted her dead.

Lew recruits her close friend and fellow flyfisherman, retired dentist "Doc" Osborne, for his forensic and interrogation skills. Meanwhile, Ray Pradt, ice fishing guide and expert tracker, helps with the initial investigation even as he threatens to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a key witness. Lew's life and career is further complicated when a young woman calls, convinced that Lew is her birth mother.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2015

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About the author

Victoria Houston

32 books220 followers
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.

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5 stars
129 (33%)
4 stars
152 (39%)
3 stars
81 (21%)
2 stars
15 (3%)
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6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,932 reviews772 followers
July 23, 2015
I have a heck of a lot of ARC's on my iPad so I thought I would try to bring the number down a bit by random pick a book. If it is any good will I read it, but if it's bad and/or I can't seem to get into the story, will I DNF since life is way to short and I have too many books to read to waste on crappy books.

A woman is pushed before a truck and the local police must find out who killed her. Since she is a rich widow with stepchildren are there enemies close to her, but who is cold-blooded enough to snuff out her life?

This one started out good and then along the way the story became pretty obvious and the revealing of the murderer was really no big surprise. On the plus side, I liked the characters and the little down and that made it easier to read. But on the other side, have you ever seen a Midsomer Murder episode? This one felt like an episode of the series, although with an American setting.

It was a fast read, not a perfect book, but it entertained me somewhat.

Discovered now that this is book 15 in a series. I knew it was a series, but had no clue that it was to be that many books before this one. Oh well, it was easy to get into the book, despite that!

I received this copy from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review! Thank you!

Review also posted on A Bookaholic Swede and It's a Mad Mad World
Profile Image for Kimberly.
398 reviews48 followers
January 5, 2017
This is book 15 in the "Loon Lake" series.
In this book, the setting is one of my favs....a snowy, icy blustery winter. A lady standing on the street gets pushed from behind and into the road and is then hit by a logging truck. The man who hit her says that he saw a man come up behind the lady and give her a shove. Another witness who saw the face of the man who shoved the lady turns up dead.
The lady who was killed was very rich, loaded with money left to her from her deceased husband. Was the lady killed so that the children of the deceased could get their inheritance quicker, was the money even intended to go to the children, was the whole thing an accident from the start, so many questions, so many motives and so many possible perps.
This was a pretty good book. I recommend it.
Profile Image for Abibliofob.
1,018 reviews43 followers
August 3, 2022
Another winter in Loon Lake, this is the third winter and Doc Osborne is still 63? Dead Rapunzel by Victoria Houston is a nifty little series but there are some inconsistencies. Like Osbornes age, when he first tried a kayak and when he did retire. Oh, in one book he ties his own flies but in all the others he refuses? Apart from that it's cozy.
Profile Image for Sania Tasnim.
23 reviews15 followers
July 17, 2019
The story was pretty much predictable. Not much excitement.
Profile Image for Eileen Lynx.
620 reviews7 followers
February 3, 2019
I like reading about ice fishing but I don’t think I’ll ever try it. Very good story.
Profile Image for IslandRiverScribe.
470 reviews17 followers
February 8, 2017
This is probably the best entry, other than the first, in the long running Loon Lake series, but be aware that the book's promo is partially inaccurate. In fact, three different sentences in that promo are either misleading or totally false.

First, we have the sentence that says, “A lone witness…is soon found dead – drowned in icy waters…” He is definitely found dead; that part is true. But he did not drown, not even close.

Secondly, the promo states: “Meanwhile, Ray Pradt…helps… even as he threatens to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a key witness.” Yes, Ray helps with the investigation, as usual, but the woman Houston alludes to in this statement is not a witness to anything. She is simply the murdered woman’s best friend and executor of her estate. And while she does provide a great deal of background information for the case, she is nowhere near the scene when the murder occurs and nothing that happens between her and Ray is legally inappropriate.

And finally the last sentence of the promo states: "Lew's life and career are further complicated when a young woman calls, convinced that Lew is her birth mother." Doesn't happen! Oh, there's a girl looking for her birth mother, but never - not in the beginning, not in the middle, not in the end - does she so much as suggest that Lew is or could have been her birth mother.

Even though we are initially misled in multiple scenarios as to the plotline of the book, the murder mystery that does evolve is actually pretty solid. For the first time in many entries, Houston has written an ending that is believable and not achieved through a deus ex machina.
But I will still be getting any future entries in the Loon Lake series from the library rather than from a direct purchase since Houston’s plots usually have holes in them that you could throw an entire reference library through. While the main protagonists have such great characterization that they are truly a joy to spend an afternoon with, after 15 books, Houston is still writing Doc Osbourne as 62 years old. Ray Pradt is still 32, and Mike (the dog) hasn't aged a day either. Shades of Stephanie Plum!
469 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2018
I would give this 2.5 *'s. A quick and easy read. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that this book is well down the list in a series. Didn't seem to make any difference, though. I may try to start at the beginning sometime in the future but I'm not in a hurry. I did appreciate that it was a pg type book. Just a nice, quiet read here in the midwest where the temps are frigid & the nights are long.
Profile Image for Sallee.
660 reviews25 followers
December 16, 2015
This was a quick read with very likeable characters. Never having read this author before, I find that her other books in this series of which this was 15, are worth checking out. It was entertaining and kept my attention.
Profile Image for ☺Trish.
1,110 reviews
September 11, 2015
Intriguing murder mystery with an interesting cast of characters. I plan to get book #1 of Victoria Houston's Loon Lake mystery series and get to know these characters better.
30 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2017
Personal Response: Dead Rapunzel was an amazing crime investigation novel based on a true story. It featured Llewelyn as the chief of the police in Loon Lake, Wisconsin. It really conveyed how it is to investigate a crime in the winters of the midwest.

Plot Summary: An extremely wealthy man named Philip passes away after getting cancer twice. His fortune went to his current wife Rudd, and she wants to take his money and build a museum for everyone to remember him by. Then a logging truck hit Rudd, but the driver claimed that someone had pushed Rudd in front of his truck. When the police are investigating the crime, a boy from a coffee shop across the street gave a description of the man who pushed Rudd. Later that boy was found dead under the ice of Loon Lake. Rudd's will, from her inheritance from Philip's money, was to go to the museum instead of her step children. The police kept suspecting it to be one of the children who had done it. There was Sloane a tempered lady, Tim was a very suspicious man that lived far away in Quebec, and lastly there was Kenzie whom is very friendly, but was bipolar and a small schizophrenic. It ended up being not Kenzie or her husband, but her husbands father. His father borrowed Kenzie's car whenever he committed any of the crimes. Greg, Kenzie's husband, was the first to find out it was his dad. When Greg confronted his dad, his dad shot him with his magnum. Greg made a full recovery, but while on the run from the police his Dad slid forty feet in the air, crashed through the windshield and split his head in half. After his death, he was charged with two first degree murders and one violation of a police officer. All of the kids got their share of the fortune except Tim who was charged with one set of second degree murder on his step mother Rudd.

Character Analysis: Llewellyn was the chief of police for Loon Lake, and she was a very happy, romantic woman who took her job with pride. After being kidnapped by Vern, Greg's dad, she saw life is short and decided to live it closer to the people she loved.
Dr. Osborne was a retired dentist working occasionally at the Loon Lake Police Department for Dental Identification. After Llewellyn was kidnapped, she wanted to spend more time with her by his side.
Judith was mainly just the holder of Rudd's will, but she was later brought together with the crime and became good friends with the police and Rudd's family.

Mallory was Dr. Osborne's daughter who had returned to live with her father from college, and she became an employee at Rudd's museum.

Ray was a cop that found most of evidence against Vern and Tim.

Tim was a suspicious man who abused his youngest sister as a kid and drew censored paintings of her. He was a loose end in the murder of his step mother, by attempt to split his share of the fortune.

Sloane was the oldest of Rudd's family. She was a tempered lady who wanted everything to go her way, and after Rudd died all she wanted was her money. After they found out who murdered her, she was just happy to get her money.
Kenzie was the youngest of the children. She was Bipolar and was borderline Schizophrenic, and because of these attributes she was a person of interest; however, she was very calm and kind which brought question.

Greg was Kenzie's husband, and he was the first to find out who murdered Rudd. He ended up getting shot confronting the killer.

Vern was a sneaky smoker, so at every crime scene they found cigarettes. He was always so secretive with Tim, which made sense because they killed Rudd.

Setting: The book takes place in Loon Lake Wisconsin, near Wausau. It is the middle of winter, maybe January or early February, and it is normally very cold out the days the book takes place. The setting is very important with the plot because being able to identify key points using the snow was very important. Without the snow, things such as: snowmobile tracks, snow prints, and the slippery black ice that killed Greg's father, would not be relevant.

Recommendation: The book was great and I would recommend it to anyone who likes detection or mystery books. The book also takes place in Wisconsin, which is great because the taste of the atmosphere is recognizable. This book would be easier to follow for middle school and high school students because of the information that the book portrays.
Profile Image for Norma.
189 reviews
March 3, 2018
Dead Rapunzel, the 15th addition to Victoria Houston's Loon Lake mystery series, is a fast read. The dependable characters, Lew Ferris, Doc Osborne, and Ray Pradt find themselves in the middle of solving 2 murders in the dead of winter. A wealthy widow is run down by a logging truck. An eye witness to the accident is found a day later submerged in the frozen lake. Property rights, family dynamics, and money are wrapped up in this investigation. There is always time for fishing in a Loon Lake Mystery and in winter, waxies are the bait.
Profile Image for Maryalene.
344 reviews1 follower
October 6, 2018
I didn't finish this one.

As someone who has never written a book, I always feel a bit guilty criticizing an author's work, especially someone who isn't a "big name" and may have a greater chance of seeing my words. I appreciate that books are a labor of love and hate to be a downer.

However, as a reader, this one didn't grab me despite a promising plot. The writing felt clunky, and it seemed like there was too much telling and not enough showing. I got to page 40 and then decided the book felt more like a chore than a joy so I gave it up.

Sorry Victoria!
Profile Image for Kimberly Ann.
1,658 reviews
April 27, 2021
The young widow of a wealthy man who is about to open an art gallery with the money he left her is pushed in front of a lumber truck & killed...and old man without a hat is seen running away from the scene. The young man who saw the old man is then found dead out near an ice fishing spot.

As Lew & Dr Osborne investigate her death, it becomes obvious that her predeceased husband's children & extended family know nothing about her plans for the museum & have high hopes of inheriting.

It was obvious "who done it". Not as much actual fishing in this one, but still the subject is there.
Profile Image for A.
215 reviews
September 27, 2021
Boy are the Loon Lake mysteries getting bad. I keep reading them because my mom gives me the books for free, I know the characters, and they are easy reads. Do not pay for this book even at a thrift store and don't spend your time starting on the series here.

There is little plot, the characters have become very flat and they haven't developed much past the 5th or 6th book in the series. Ms. Houston needs to move on to a new concept. How about a book about Hodags? She lives in Rhinelander, WI the home of the Hodag myth.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,197 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2020
A wealthy widow gets run over by a logging truck on a very cold winter day. But the logger says she was pushed and a young worker at the cafe recalls seeing an old man run by. Chief Ferris and her team have to figure out what is going on.

Doesn't take a lot of thinking. A nice procedural. A nice, comforting read and includes things about fly fishing and ice fishing.
Profile Image for Erika Powers.
256 reviews
December 31, 2020
I liked the first one I read better. In this one the bad guy is in a car wreck and a tree goes through the windshield and beheads the guy just when the story was getting good. Was a cheap way out of what could have been a juicy ending. But it did its job, told a story and thats all I was hoping for from this one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Annie.
1,892 reviews16 followers
December 18, 2017
A most excellent 5 star read! So enjoy this series!
411 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2019
winter, ice fishing, logging truck runs down woman who is part of a nutsy family but she was pushed - who was wearing the Halloween mask?
472 reviews7 followers
September 25, 2020
First novel by Houston I have read. Enjoyed the setting, characters & the plot.
492 reviews
April 22, 2021
Up north murder mystery set in Wisconsin. An easy read, that kept a few surprises in the plot line.
Profile Image for Susan Fetterer.
359 reviews2 followers
February 4, 2016
Dead Rapunzel is the third selection of the Moveable Feast's 2016 year-long roster of mysteries written by Twin Cities/regional authors. This is NOT the story of the fairy tale Rapunzel's later years, ending with her demise. It would appear that a Rapunzel is a rather complex, hand-tied mechanism used to lure walleye to their death.
A small town in northern Wisconsin provides the setting for a linear cast of characters loosely connected to a death which may or may not have been an accident, who have a predilection for (and some considerable expertise in the art of) fly fishing---hence the Rapunzel reference---but for now, in the dead of winter, employ augers and things called tip-ups, to bore through ice covered lakes for entertainment.
A light, seasonally-appropriate read!
Profile Image for Linda.
898 reviews141 followers
July 11, 2015
Meh. I picked this up at the library because of the title and the setting. I was less than impressed with the writing, the character development and really, the editing. So much repetition, so much stilted dialogue. Seemed like there were an awful lot of people in the room when they were supposedly searching the house, but ended up looking at a collection of fishing rods. I doubt that would happen. But the mystery was actually not bad. Could have easily nixed that last page, though. We didn't need a cozy in-bed wrap-up to insert yet another tidbit of info about our hero and his ex-wife. Huh? Just let it end at the end of the meal.
Profile Image for Nicole.
10 reviews
July 22, 2015
Perfect vacation read...especially while in the Northwoods! The clerk at the bookshop on the main drag in Eagle River, WI suggested the Loon Lake series to me when I asked for some good fiction featuring the region. The author is from the area, and she vividly (and accurately) describes life in small town northern WI. The style is similar to Sue Grafton's alphabet series - a light (but not shallow) and entertaining murder mystery. I finished this book in two days while lounging on the porch at my in-laws cabin, and enjoyed it so much I read Dead Insider as well. I'll save a few others for my next trip to the lake.
Profile Image for Linda Spyhalski.
420 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2015
I always love Victoria Houston's books. She was born and raised in my hometown Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I believe this is her seventeenth mystery all named after fly fishing baits and set in the Rhinelander area. Her characters are just like those lake folks that I remember as a child. Except, of course, the bad guys who murder some innocent person. There is nothing quite so special as reading a book written by an author who lived just down the road from you (in her summer cabin) and that you run into at the local grocery store, Trigs! Can hardly wait for her next book!!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
540 reviews
June 21, 2016
An engaging mystery with delightful, almost poetic, writing, especially when describing either a deep fishing hole or the wonderful Northwoods, makes this a perfect book for a quiet evening. The characters are well developed and true-to-life. While all of Houston's books have interesting plots, this one had a particularly devious twist and unique aspects which made the puzzle all that more intriguing for the reader. I highly recommend any book in this series, though this one is particularly outstanding.

19 reviews
September 2, 2015
Latest in the Loon Lake mystery series, has Lew (police chief) and her friend Dr. Osborne (retired dentist) discovering the pedestrian hit by Mack truck was no accident. They begin a search for the killer and the suspects are plenty. The love of fly fishing is throughout this book, but doesn't hinder the mystery.
Profile Image for Pat.
20 reviews
September 29, 2015
Really fun read! Victoria Houston is a master at weaving in the subtle language used in northern Wisconsin, and although Loon Lake is a fictitous place, the fact that it is surrounded by real cities gives the reader the opportunity to visualize their favorite town "up north" as being Loon Lake. My only complaint is that I finished the book too quickly!
Profile Image for Michael.
65 reviews1 follower
August 11, 2015
Once again the Sheriff and Doc work together to solve the latest crime in Loon Lake. A few new characters are introduced and some I hope will turn up in Houston's next Loon Lake Mystery. Quick read, as are all of her stories about Loon Lake.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews

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