In the sixth book in the series of Sean Stranahan mysteries by Keith McCafferty, Sean and his fly-fishing buddies work at unraveling a puzzle that revolves around a lost steamer trunk of flies and gear belonging to Ernest Hemingway. Once again, Sean works with and against the law as he discovers bodies.
Certainly, the Bozeman author is deeply familiar with the stretches of rivers he mentions winding through Montana, Wyoming and Michigan. There are fine turns of words: “the spring storm had dropped a blanket of trouble”; “the river of his mind joined currents with the river of geography”; “the wind was a broom that swept the insects off the river.”
McCafferty writes about the psychology of greed and what it can do to people who let it take over. He punctuates his tale with a tremendous amount of fly-fishing lore and sprinkles adventures liberally across the pages.
Of course the tale keeps you up when you should be sleeping. But how to sleep when you can feel the cold through the waders and struggle to keep your footing in a rushing stream? Heck, there’s even a section that is written (credibly!) in pure Hemingway style.
The story’s inception was a long-ago conversation on the banks of British Columbia’s Thomson River, where Hemingway’s oldest son, Jack, told McCafferty the story of how his father lost a trunk of valuable fly-fishing gear from the Railway Express in 1940. With it vanished the fabled author’s heart for the sport.
In Cold Hearted River, McCafferty not only deploys his extensive knowledge of the natural world as the survival and outdoor-skills editor of Field and Stream, he also reveals his deep appreciation for a revered American writer. Impossible to resist his invitation: “Pour a drink, light a fire, and turn the page. I have a story to tell.”
– LK Willis