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Murder She Wrote meets Fargo in the eighteenth installment of the “engaging” (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine), critically acclaimed Loon Lake mystery series.

“My wife and the CEO of my company just tried to run over me.”

Doc Osborne is startled by the unexpected words tumbling out of the mouth of a fellow AA member, a recently remarried lead accountant for an under-construction luxury fly fishing lodge preserve.

Doc tries to alert Chief Lew Ferris, but she is tied up with law enforcement teams across the state searching for thieves who have been cutting down and stealing hundreds of thousands of precious birch trees from public and private property across northern Wisconsin.

But it’s too late.

With two men dead, evidence of lakeshore properties being stolen from elderly owners, and an attempted sexual assault, short-handed Chief Ferris deputizes Doc and his skilled tracker neighbor to help with the investigation.

Just another summer in Loon Lake.

207 pages, Paperback

First published June 19, 2018

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About the author

Victoria Houston

31 books232 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
75 (31%)
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96 (40%)
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56 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for LORI CASWELL.
2,482 reviews280 followers
June 2, 2019
Dollycas’s Thoughts

“My wife and Gordon Maxwell tried to kill me this morning.”

That line got Doc Osborne’s attention but before he can do anything his friend Chuck Pelletier is dead, probably killed by his new wife and his boss Gordon Maxwell. Doc is now going to work closely with his girlfriend, Police Chief Lew Ferris to bring the killer to justice.

Add to that, thousands of acres of birch trees are being decimated on public and private lands and Lew finds out elderly riverfront property owners are being forced to sell for pennies on the dollar. She and Doc hardly have time to do even a little fishing.


Time to travel a few hours north for another visit to Loon Lake. I always enjoy catching up with Doc, Lew, Ray, and the Wausau crew.

This time Doc is personally involved and feeling guilty for letting a man he met through AA down. They had three things in common, AA, fishing and losing their wives. I had to laugh when a new investigator expected Doc to be recused from the case because he knew the victim. Heck, everyone knows everyone in Loon Lake, which Lew quickly pointed out. That is what I love about these stories. The author gives us a true picture of the way things work in a small town.

Ms. Houston’s characters are like old friends. Doc and Lew are comfortable in their relationship, Ray Pradt, tracker and water tour guide extraordinaire brings the comic relief for topics that could get a little heavy. Together they make an excellent team to solve a case and get justice. They also spend their free time together, much of it spent in a lake in their waders with a fishing rod in their hands.

This time the mystery was more in proving something Doc already knew. You can’t arrest and indict without evidence and he was one determined man. All of Lew’s investigations twisted together and with his help, they were able to wrap everything up to my satisfaction.

At just over 200 pages, this story was a quick read and very entertaining. I love that they take place not far from where I live and can attest that the author describes the locale perfectly. References to real places are always fun.

I don’t fish anymore but these little trips always bring my grandfather to mind. As a youngster, I spent a lot of time with him out in his boat on the lake. He trying to teach me the fine art of fishing while I just loved spending time with him. When he passed away there was no one left in my life that fished so that part of my life faded away but left me with some fine memories. Doc reminds me a little bit of my grandfather.

Somewhere along the line, I got a little behind on this series, but now I am caught up and ready for Dead Big Dawg that will be released June 11.

Profile Image for Abibliofob.
1,135 reviews62 followers
August 4, 2022
Dead Firefly by Victoria Houston is another Loon Lake mystery where exploitation is the topic, oh, and some lying and stealing and murder. Fishing, there's some fishing going on as well, fancy that. Now I'm almost through the entire series and although there are some mistakes when it comes to names and details I must say it has been a fun ride.
Profile Image for Joan.
829 reviews
October 6, 2018
A friend of Doc Osborne tells him that his business partner and wife tried to hit him with a car. Before Doc has a chance to help him, he finds his friend dead.

A lot is going on around Loon Lake. Birch trees are being cut down and stolen off private property (including police chief Lew's) and Lew's elderly former mother-in-law is cheated out of her valuable land. Fraud is being committed at an area fishing resort development. The daughter of the murder victim is grabbed and kissed hard on the mouth by a stranger on her arrival at the small local airstrip.

I really enjoy this series. The main character is a man and the feel of the book is more masculine than most cozy mysteries. Although I know nothing about fishing, all the fishing details add tremendously to the local colour. The books are a pleasant departure from the usual B&B or small business setting so common in cozies.

Best of all, Ms Houston's books always have a very satisfying ending. :)
Profile Image for Lisa Malmquist.
677 reviews18 followers
April 15, 2021
A Loon Lake mystery set in an imaginary town near Rhinelander, Wis. Doc Osborne and Lew, the female police chief of Loon Lake have a new mystery to solve.
Several actually. Doc's good friend Chuck Pelletier calls up Doc claiming that his wife and Gordon Maxwell, his boss tried to run him over with their car that morning.
Chuck is the lead accountant for a new luxury fishing lodge being built locally.
While Doc is trying to reach the chief of police about this revelation and protect Chuck, Lew is trying to figure out who is cutting down and stealing birch trees without permission on properties all over the area.
Just afterwards, Chuck is found dead and Doc is beside himself.
A complicated plot and lots of great characters and my favorite justice prevails even when it looks like the bad guys are going to get away with it.
Profile Image for Rose.
214 reviews1 follower
September 3, 2019
I love Victoria Houston but this one fell short. There were just too many holes. And random things. Like. What was the point of Maxwell randomly kissing Jessi? Why did Lew not arrest him for assault? She needed to lock him up and didn't arrest him for something she easily could have.
I also found myself annoyed at the end. She obviously knew what Molly did but chose to look away. That seemed so out of character for her. I found the whole thing irritating and unsatisfying. Overall, the ending was rushed and thrown together.

Never the less, I can't wait for the next one!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
573 reviews
October 4, 2018
An excellent, if short (I think these last two books in the series are almost novellas rather than full length books), cozy mystery in the Wisconsin back woods. Excellent fishing but also home to modern-day crimes, along with some unique to the northern forests (stealing birch trees!). Police chief Lew and her friend and often deputy, Doc, are a great pair for solving mysteries involving both fish and crime. And at the end an interesting look at justice.
Profile Image for John.
477 reviews13 followers
July 9, 2018
Extremely Enjoyable Series!!

I have read all 18 books in the series. Doc Osborne and Sheriff Lewellyn are just flat out enjoyable characters. I could never Leave out Fishing guy Ray Pratt, what a hoot! I as always can't wait for the next installment in the series. I think this is the first, while enjoyable, I just couldn't give it 5 stars. Too me personally it just wasn't as good. BUT, I WILL BE WAITING FOR #19 and I will purchase it! Ms. Houston please do all of your readers a favor and give Ray a dominant role in one of your books, he just flat makes me laugh!
Profile Image for Bart.
280 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2022
The plug on the back calls it “‘Murder She Wrote’ meets ‘Fargo’,” and that gets it about half right. There’s all the corn and schmaltz of “Murder She Wrote” with none of the writ or edge of “Fargo.”

It’s more Hallmark Channel than FX. With all the wooden characters and by-the-numbers plot line to match.

I’ll admit that thus book is just not my cup of tea. So I’ll leave the other 19 (!) books in the series for others to read.
Profile Image for Margie.
66 reviews1 follower
July 17, 2019
Another murder has occurred in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Ms Houston keeps you intrigued as you follow along. The characters of her series continue to evolve in their relationships. The plot is easy to follow. This time I could guess who the culprits were. It was up to the Chief to tie it altogether. The demise of the main culprits was an interesting twist.
287 reviews19 followers
August 17, 2022
This book could have been and should have been, great. But the entire story was rushed and how coincidental that all 3 mysteries were related. But the glaring mistakes! For instance, Ed's dogs ae not Dobermans! Towards the end of the book, the word manifest was used, when it should have been manifold. Not sure if this was a typo or what but good editing should have caught it.
32 reviews
January 11, 2023
Easy read but VERY predictable. No twists or turns, no real development. Not real sure how stealing birch trees was important to the story unless that was a part of her previous books as this is the first I've read of hers, but it felt really random and didn't fully tie into the story other than helping to catch the culprit. Not overly thrilled about it and probably would not recommend.
Profile Image for Linda Spyhalski.
424 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2018
I always read Victoria Houston's Loon Lake Mysteries. I was born and raised in Rhinelander, Wisconsin the setting of her books. It is pretty special to personally know an author and her family from your childhood.
August 2, 2018
Exactly what you would expect

Exactly what you would expect...and that is a good thing. Easy read with established characters.

Ms Houston's Loon Lake series isn't going to win any literary awards...but I guarantee I will buy the next one!

Profile Image for Gail.
396 reviews23 followers
June 22, 2018
Light fun summer read. Set in northern Wisconsin. 18Th in the Loon Lake series.
284 reviews6 followers
June 28, 2018
Love this series! Living in Wisconsin, and having stayed at lakes up north, this is a familiar setting. A good quick read!
July 12, 2018
A good one

Victoria Houston always has a good story to keep your interest. Old men and their lives and love interest a good combo.
Profile Image for Ann.
233 reviews
August 25, 2018
Another fun mystery, set in an area I know, and with characters that feel like friends.
470 reviews
November 11, 2019
Not sure I understand the title. Simple who done it ? But she got away with murder and the chief of police let her do it
411 reviews2 followers
March 5, 2020
Like the combination of forensic accounting with backwoods investigation. Book seemed shorter than others, but all the local characters are at their best
Profile Image for Jodi.
406 reviews11 followers
November 19, 2020
It is like going home again when I visit with Doc, Lew and the gang.
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

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