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In the next installment of the Loon Lake Mystery series, Lewellyn Ferris and Doc Osborne must solve a murder that shatters the picturesque Wisconsin lake town community at the height of summer.

On a lovely Sunday afternoon in late June, the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close. People are happy, kids are full of ice cream, and teenagers are setting off firecrackers so loud that no one hears the gunshot.

But when the crowd thins out, an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the head has killed her much older husband—the richest man in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, as the murder investigation gets underway, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris's good friend and deputy coroner, “Doc” Osborne, is alarmed to hear that his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting.

And Loon Lake’s idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in the local nursing home discover they have been robbed.

“Victoria Houston’s love for her Wisconsin setting—and her wonderful characters—is evident on every page of her fine series” (New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman).

208 pages, Paperback

First published May 23, 2017

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About the author

Victoria Houston

40 books227 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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for LORI CASWELL.
2,417 reviews273 followers
August 18, 2018
Dollycas’s Thoughts

Chuck Pfeiffer owns Pfeiffer’s Fishing, Golf, and Shooting Sports and is said to be the richest man in Wisconsin. He is the primary sponsor of the Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament. The final judging is underway and some fool is lighting off fireworks. As Doc Osbourne, his daughter and granddaughter are leaving they hear screams and rush back to find a man dead. Doc places a call to Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris, “Lewellyn, the richest man in Wisconsin just took a bullet to the brain.”

I have enjoyed all of my virtual trips to Loon Lake and this one was no different. No matter how busy Lew is trying to solve crimes she always finds time to get in the water for a little fly fishing with Doc. Sometimes they are joined by one or more other characters. The solitude she finds there shows the author’s love of fishing and being on the lake. My grandfather loved to fish and took me with him several times and every time I open one of these books memories of him just flood my mind.

The murder this time happened in a crowd of people, but no one seemed to see anything. Thankfully everyone including the people in the Pfeiffer tent were filming the day on cameras or their phones. Of course, no one actually caught the murder while it was happening, or did they? Lew calls in an expert to help them go through the tapes and really tune in to what they are seeing and it started to bring some suspects to light.

Doc also had another crime on his mind and that one takes a scary and horrific turn. It kept me right on the edge of my seat.

Ms. Houston drew me right into this story. After 17 books in the series, I am invested in these characters and care about what happens to them. She gave me a mystery that held my attention. I realized the killer just a little before Lew and Osbourne but the final reveal wasn’t what I hoped or imagined, but it was understandable.

Set in my home state I love reading the descriptions of the area and the mentions of familiar places. I think it is time to take a real live trip to loon lake instead of these virtual ones 🙂
Profile Image for Abibliofob.
1,069 reviews44 followers
August 4, 2022
One of the better ones in the series. Dead Spider by Victoria Houston is all about revenge and the problem with drugs and teenagers. What a wicked story and the revenge act is great.
Profile Image for Lisa Malmquist.
633 reviews17 followers
March 31, 2021
Love this series!
It is mid-June in Northern Wisconsin and the kids fishing tournament is finished and the awards are going to be given out shortly.
The teenagers are shooting off firecrackers which cover the sounds of a gunshot going off.
The sponsor of the tournament and the richest man in the area is dead.
He is found shot in the head.
The Loon Lake police chief Lewellyn Ferris has a tough case on her hands. So many people around during the tournament and noone has a clue what happened.
Doc Osborn is deputized to help. He is trained in forensic dentistry.
Meanwhile, Doc's 15 year old grandchild, Beth has been caught up in a drug case in town.
Great characters and a good mystery as well.
Always fun to spend some time in Wisconsin with these stories!
Profile Image for JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book).
1,249 reviews19 followers
March 2, 2017
On a sunny summer afternoon the town of Loon Lake, Wisconsin is having fun at the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament. The tournament is sponsored by Chuck Pfeiffer, owner of a chain of sporting stores across several states. Chuck, possessor of a young wife and an unsavory past isn't well-liked; and this is never more apparent than when, shortly after the tournament ends, he is found slumped in his chair - under a bright yellow awning - dead; shot in the head at close range.

Not the end to the fishing tournament that Police Chief Lew Ferris expected - especially since the dead man was the richest man in Wisconsin, and a friend of the mayor. So Lew is given extra funds to find the killer of Pfeiffer, and fast. Along with Dr. Paul 'Doc' Osborne, retired dentist, part-time deputy coroner and longtime close friend, she also has the help of Bruce Peters, a forensic specialist with the Wausau Crime Lab.

But finding Chuck's killer isn't going to be easy. There are plenty of people who wouldn't mind seeing an end to him; he'd done nothing in his life but take what he wanted, even if it meant destroying others to do so. No, he wasn't liked by many, but still he was dead and it was Lew's job to find out who pulled the trigger.

But Doc has more on his plate when his fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Beth, is caught with her friends who were trying to buy drugs. Even though she's cleared of any wrongdoing herself, she makes an ill-advised statement that could lead to trouble later on down the line. Unfortunately, Beth thinks she has to handle it on her own since she knows she made a mistake and doesn't want to admit it to her family.

Then it's discovered that a local nursing home was burglarized, with guns, money, and jewelry being stolen, and with the murder front and central, Lew is beginning to stretch herself pretty thin, not to mention it isn't helping Doc since he's also trying to give Lew a very special birthday present and hopes he'll have it in time - but with an unsolved murder in view, Lew and Doc are going to have to do some fishing of their own to expose a killer...

As the 17th book in the Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries, Dead Spider proves that long-running series do not always wind up lifeless. Ms. Jackson's characters are human and with each new book we see a different side to the characters making them believable and real. Doc's feelings for Lew run deep and while we know she feels the same for him, Lew keeps a tighter hold on her emotions. But it is quite a bit of fun to watch Ray Pradt, Doc's neighbor and local fishing guide, while he tries to convince a woman he's fallen for that fishing is actually a good thing.

When the ending comes and the murderer is finally revealed, it is at the same time rather sad yet understood. I would like to say more, but in doing so I am afraid it would give away the answers, and this I will not do. Suffice it to say that the ending is very good indeed, and makes us realize why we keep reading the books in this series - they are written well and Ms. Houston never disappoints. Highly recommended.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cooper.
517 reviews10 followers
September 10, 2019
This is the first in the series that I've read. Maybe if I'd read from the start, I'd have more understanding of these characters, who they are to each other, what relationships have been established, etc. I imagined Osborne as much older and Lew much younger and I thought they were friends, so when it was revealed they were lovers, it just took me by surprise.

Overall, this is a nice and easy read. By the end of chapter one, the murder takes place and we quickly understand that Chuck may have been the wealthiest man in Wisconsin but he wasn't the most popular. A man with many secrets, Chuck has many enemies that Lew must sort through to figure out clues from gossip. The ending was quite clever and I loved how a "visual perception expert" was brought in to help Lew and her crew to look beyond what they were looking for to see what was there.

I'll definitely go back and read the series from the beginning. Ms. Houston writes vividly of Loon Lake and her part of Wisconsin. The characters are interesting and I learned more about fishing than I ever wanted to know.

"'Dear people,' she said, 'if I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it's this: You can't cheat death.' Her eye narrowed. 'But you can settle accounts.'" (p. 194)
Profile Image for A.
215 reviews
December 24, 2022
In Dead Spider Victoria Houston tackles drugs in Loon Lake and also teen abduction. Two pretty heavy topics for Doc and Lew. The story arc is good in this one with the scion of a powerful local family dying mysteriously in the middle of a fishing tournament awards show; but the two potential suspects angle is explored fully down both avenues with the one the author wants you to believe is guilty receiving the most focus.

Eventually it becomes clear someone else committed the crime and when that happens Victoria Houston totally abandons the other story line. Maybe it comes back in the next volume or maybe this is just the author getting lost in her own work.

These were nice little Northwoods mysteries that I enjoyed as a Wisconsinite when they appeared on the scene 10 or so years ago; but now they've become trite, predictable and poorly written. I have one more that my mom shared with me a few years ago and when that one is done (when I've nothing else to read or want a two to three day read I pick up a Loon Lake mystery from that stack) then so am I.

55 reviews
July 19, 2017
Got this book from the library. Glad I did not buy. This series originally featured fishing, lots and lots of fishing. Ray was fun and funny. Lew and Doc made a nice couple. And, there were interesting stories to fill the space between the fishing. This book is none of the above. The only allusion to fishing was the handing out of trophies to some kids that competed in a fishing derby, and to a friend still trying to learn how to cast a fly. Since the next two books are already named and scheduled for release one year apart over the next two years, I assume the author already has her outlines. Hope she injects some real fishing. As for the title of the book, for you who do not know the spider reference. A spider is a type of fly fishing fly. I would have rather read about fishing flies than what I just read.
Profile Image for Roxann.
875 reviews8 followers
February 25, 2018
From the cover: On a lovely Sunday afternoon in late June, the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close. People are happy, kids are full of ice cream, and teenagers are setting off firecrackers so loud that no one hears the gunshot. But when the crowd thins out, an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the head has killed her much older husband—the richest man in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, as the murder investigation gets underway, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris's good friend and deputy coroner, “Doc” Osborne, is alarmed to hear that his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting. And Loon Lake’s idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in the local nursing home discover they have been robbed.

This is the latest book in the Loon Lake series. It is another quick enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Kimberly Ann.
1,658 reviews
April 12, 2021
Lew has her hands full, not only has the least liked richest man in town been murdered at the annual youth fishing contest which he sponsors, the local residential home for retirees has been robbed (drugs, guns, jewelry, & cash), and Dr. Osborne's granddaughter has disappeared.

A lot is going on. The Governor's office has labeled the murder as High Priority & is footing the bill for the investigation; the town has been asked to send in all photos & videos they've taken on the event; and an expert on reading surveillance videos is brought in to teach Lew & her deputies how to review the event's films as well as the town's.

Somehow everything is all connected and there really isn't any surprises.
9,642 reviews86 followers
May 9, 2017
I hadn't read this series before and I suspect I was missing a variety of things but that didn't hamper my enjoyment. Loved the fishing info and the Wisconsin setting, both of which are foreign to me (making this a learning experience as well.) Lew is the sort of law enforcement officer we see a lot in small town mysteries but she's well fleshed out even in this short novel. Doc makes a good sidekick. THanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. If you, like me, haven't read these before, try it for Houston's writing and clear affections for the setting and characters. The mystery isn't too complicated but it's a good read.
Profile Image for Karla Martinsen.
118 reviews2 followers
May 18, 2018
I enjoyed this Look Lake story as well as all the previous, I've read them all to this point, the mystery wasn't as central in this one but it was still a whodunit. I feel Dead Spider was more family at the core and I liked that, you get to know these Loon Lake people and this just made them more "real". I know I can always have a light and enjoyable read with this series and look forward to each new book. During the summer I don't want a book hitting me between the eyes with a cause or teaching me a lesson, I just want relaxation and reading for pleasure; Victoria Houston gives me that and I thank her for that.
Profile Image for Patricia Ann.
227 reviews8 followers
August 1, 2017
I won this book from GoodReads. It's an easy read, kind of like a "cozy" but with fishing as the background theme. Lew (the female police chief) and "Doc" Osborne (retired male dentist) solve crimes while maintaining a romantic interest in each other. In this book, the richest man in Wisconsin is shot at the base of the brain. Many had reason to hate and to kill this man. The plot was a bit predictable and I wondered why the subplot with Doc's granddaughter was included. Nevertheless it was a good book to read, sitting on the porch with a glass of cabernet.
Profile Image for Tess.
109 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2017
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways and Gallery Books. Thank you!

This is the first book I have read by this author. This was a very quick read that was predictable. I recognize it is a series and I have missed out on the development of the characters, so I can only review this as a stand alone novel. I found it a very light read, with minimal depth to the mystery. There were at least two side stories going on, which didn't hold my interest. The Wisconsin fishing setting is a clear foundation for the book. Overall, just ok.
Profile Image for Norma.
195 reviews
December 30, 2017
Dead Spider is Victoria Houston's latest novel in her Loon Lake mystery series. Her returning characters, Doc, Ray, and Lewellyn are the charming locals. The annual youth fishing tournament is the setting for a murder, a drug sting, a kidnapping, and a robbery. The evidence is gathered and analyzed. The crimes are connected and solved. A quick read and Loon Lake returns to an idyllic summer vacation spot and the fishing capital of the Wisconsin northwoods.
Profile Image for Joan.
803 reviews
July 2, 2018
Another nasty, rich man dies, this time at a children's fishing festival which he sponsors.

Doc's grand-daughter, 15 year old Beth, is accused of selling drugs. While at the police station she pretends to be tough to impress the girl who is detained in the same room. The girl later introduces Beth to her boyfriend, who hopes to use her to sell at the high school.

One of the things I enjoy about the Loon Lake mysteries is that mainly bad people die and there is always a satisfying ending.
Profile Image for bfilbeck.
87 reviews
February 26, 2017
Dead Spider by Victoria Houston is a whodunit that holds your interest from cover to cover. The plot has depth and the twists are interesting and relevant.

That said, however, I found the frequent comments about fish and fishing rather annoying after the first dozen or so. For me, they detracted from what could have been an excellent book.
Profile Image for John.
469 reviews13 followers
May 30, 2017
Another Great Loon Lake Mystery!

I have read all 17 Loon Lake Mysteries and seriously enjoyed every single one of them! Dr Osborn and Lew the police chief are really enjoyable characters to follow. But Ray Pratt is one very funny guy! Looking forward to number 18. Ms Houston, thank you for this numerous and enjoyable series! 😀😀😀
462 reviews8 followers
December 22, 2017
A classic mystery taking place in a Wisconsin lake town rather than an English village. A murder investigated by Lew Ferris and Doc Osborne combines small town characters with large grudges and the contemporary drug plague. The opening fishing contest and love of fly-fishing provide a regional touch. No real surprises.
Profile Image for Mel.
314 reviews14 followers
July 28, 2017
Part of the Loon Lake mystery series, this is the first I have read of series or from the author. Enjoyed this as a quick, easy read. Characters were entertaining and kept me engrossed through the book and I enjoyed the ending which was somewhat predictable. I would like to read other books to see what else the author has to offer. I won this book in a goodreads giveaway, thank you!
Profile Image for Bridgett Brown.
830 reviews45 followers
July 31, 2017
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway.
The town is having it's annual kids fishing tournament, When the richest man in town is shot. Dr. Osborne calls Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris and reports the murder to her. They start interviewing witness and that's when everyone becomes a suspect. It was ok, Alot of fishing.
Profile Image for Cailyn Lloyd.
Author 5 books85 followers
August 29, 2019
My sister gave me this book and thought I might like the Wisconsin setting. Ms Houston is a good writer and the setting was well drawn but this just wasn't my cup of tea. The plot was predictable, with a subplot that added nothing to the tension or narrative. The characters too wholesome for my liking, including a 15 year-old girl who said 'drat' in anger.
Profile Image for Debra.
751 reviews7 followers
June 6, 2023
Flew through this #17, I think. This murder mystery of course revolved around a very bad man who was publicly executed. No one noticed. tee hee A second storyline involving teens and drugs and one of Docs grandchildren also had a message or two.

I do enjoy the investigative techniques that are used to resolve these puzzles. (and of course the characters)
Profile Image for Linda Spyhalski.
422 reviews1 follower
July 5, 2017
Another wonderful Loon Lake Mystery! It is made better by knowing the author and knowing I might run into her when visiting my hometown Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I can hardly wait for the next book Victoria writes!
Profile Image for kc.
15 reviews
September 12, 2017
I love this author and was so happy to receive a copy from Goodreads

The characters are wonderfully crafted and the reading the book makes you feel as if you were out on the lake with them. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you thinking about who did it right up to the end.
142 reviews1 follower
March 26, 2018
Interesting characters, but aspects of the who "dunit" were just not plausible. To spend so much time and resources viewing a video of a small town with no one recognizing the murderer at a very crowded event seemed unbelievable.
Profile Image for Ellen.
436 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2018
I love this series by Victoria Houston. The small town vibe, the outdoorsyness, and the characters. I'm excited when each new one comes along. They are typically quick reads, that pack a good punch of action, suspense and a variety of issues.
411 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2020
very little fishing, think plot, too much of minor characters and not enough of the major. And no reference to "the coffee pot on the window" ! Admittedly there are too many reused paragraphs in all the books, but this seemed like an afterthought
Profile Image for Julie.
1,218 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2020
A fishing tournament is coming to a close and a prominent man is found dead in his chair. The chief, Doc, Ray and others go through the clues to figure out what happened.

Great mystery. Whenever I sit down with this author's books, I feel like I'm relaxing in my recliner. A treat.
June 17, 2017
Loon lake

Enjoyed this book very much. The story is good,but the characters are e enough better. Can't wait for the next
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews

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