Dead Man's Fancy: A Novel (A Sean Stranahan Mystery)

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9780143126133: Dead Man's Fancy: A Novel (A Sean Stranahan Mystery)
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The third novel starring Montana's favorite fly fisherman-cum-detective Sean Stranahan, for fans of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box.

Cold Hearted River, the sixth in the series, is forthcoming from Viking.

Wolves howl as a riderless horse returns at sunset to the Culpepper Dude Ranch in the Madison Valley. The missing woman, Nanika Martinelli, is better known as the Fly Fishing Venus, a red-haired river guide who lures clients the way dry flies draw trout.

As Sheriff Martha Ettinger follows hoof tracks in the snow, she finds one of the men who has fallen under the temptress’s spell impaled on the antler tine of a giant bull elk, a kill that’s been claimed by a wolf pack. An accident? If not, is the killer human or animal? With painter, fly fisherman, and sometimes private detective Sean Stranahan’s help, Ettinger will follow clues that point to an animal rights group called the Clan of the Three-Clawed Wolf and to their svengali master, whose eyes blaze with pagan fire.

In their most dangerous adventure yet, Stranahan and Ettinger find themselves in the crossfire of wolf lovers, wolf haters, and a sister bent on revenge, and on the trail of an alpha male gone terribly wrong.

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About the Author:

Keith McCafferty is the survival and outdoor skills editor of Field & Stream, and the author of The Royal Wulff MurdersThe Gray Ghost Murders, and Crazy Mountain Kiss, which won the 2016 Spur Award for Best Western Contemporary Novel. Winner of the Traver Award for angling literature, he is a two-time National Magazine awards finalist. He lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana.

Keith encourages you to visit him at keithmccafferty.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for Keith McCafferty

 

The Royal Wulff Murders

 

“Keith McCafferty has pulled off a small miracle with The Royal Wulff Murders—a compelling Montana-based novel that will please both mystery readers and discerning fly-fishers.”

—C. J. Box, New York Times bestselling author of Back of Beyond and Force of Nature

“Keith McCafferty hits a bull’s-eye with Sean’s story in his debut novel, The Royal Wulff Murders. . . . Like bacon and brownies, Stranahan’s odd mix of painter, P.I., and fly fisher works. . . . Add the backwoodsy feminism of Sheriff Martha Ettinger, and the mystery is a good fit for enthusiasts of Nevada Barr who have read through all the Anna Pigeon novels. Packed with wilderness action and starring a band of stalwart individualists, The Royal Wulff Murders will have readers begging McCafferty for more.”

—Tom Lavoie, ShelfAwareness.com for Readers

“An impressive debut . . . The people here are all solid creations, sometimes prickly but always engaging, characters readers will be more than happy to see again.”

Houston Chronicle

“A thoroughly entertaining debut . . . McCafferty blends plenty of fly-fishing lore with a host of intriguing characters . . . Only the sharp-eyed observation of the medical examiner suggests the body was a murder victim rather than an accidental drowning. The eventual identification of the victim helps link Stranahan’s task to that of the sheriff. The vivid Montana setting is a plus.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A terrific mystery . . . McCafferty blends his passion for fly-fishing and his intimate knowledge of the Montana fauna and flora into a page-turning suspenseful story. . . . A mind-bending murder plot . . . Anyone who likes fish or likes a riveting murder mystery will enjoy this book.”

Journal America

“What a fine and thoroughly satisfying debut novel! There’s so much to enjoy here—a fresh sense of place, a cast of compelling characters, and a plotline with as many twists and turns as a Montana trout stream. Even if you know nothing about fly fishing, you’re going to love this book. Mark my words: from this day forward, you’ll be buying everything Keith McCafferty writes.”

—William Kent Krueger, author of Northwest Angle and Iron Lake

“What fun it is to visit my favorite fishing spots, not in a guide-boat but in a wonderful murder mystery.”

—Henry Winkler, author of I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River

“Two chapters in and you know you are in for an interesting read . . . Each scene is set up with a fisherman’s patience, with the wind, water, and wildlife of Montana becoming as important as the human characters we follow. . . . The Royal Wulff Murders should be on any outdoorsman’s reading list.”

Suspense Magazine

“Keith McCafferty’s The Royal Wulff Murders is the mystery fly anglers have been waiting for. Finally, an author who knows the crucial difference between 2X and 4X tippet! But it’s not just the fishing details that make this novel so enjoyable: it’s the rich characters, the robust sense of humor, a sadly topical plot, and a writing style that is as gin-clear as a Montana trout stream.”

—Paul Doiron, author of Trespasser and The Poacher’s Son

Wulff is fun . . . with sharp dialogue between characters . . . [and] fishing scenes that read right . . . [McCafferty is] Field & Stream’s survival editor, and that savvy shows in subtle and satisfying ways.”

Fly Rod and Reel (online)

“A muscular, original first novel. McCafferty is one of the country’s most convincing writers on survival and life in the wilderness, and this mystery is an impressive foray into fiction—taut, often highly amusing, filled with memorable characters like the lady sheriff and the former private eye who paints and fly fishes—and it’s a real page-turner.”

—Nick Lyons, author of My Secret Fishing Life

“The last time I fished the Madison River it was high, fast, and dirty—words that come to mind for parts of McCafferty’s tangy debut mystery. But there are also episodes of angling wonder and Montana beauty, rendered in prose so gorgeous they make this book a truly rare catch, the page-turner that doubles as a poetic meditation.”

—Mark Kingwell, author of Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life

 

The Gray Ghost Murders

 

“This is a truly wonderful read. In an old and crowded field, Keith has created characters fresh, quirky, and yet utterly believable, then stirred them into a mystery that unfolds with grace and humor against a setting of stunning beauty and danger. Stranahan, the fisherman sleuth, breaks free of the old clichés and delights with his humanity, vulnerability, and love of cats. Yes, cats. Keith has written a book that speaks to women and men regardless of color or background. The only downside of this book is that we must wait a year for the next one.”

—Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the Anna Pigeon mysteries

“McCafferty skillfully weaves Big Sky color, humor, and even romance (in the form of Sean’s stunning new girlfriend, Martinique, who’s bankrolling veterinary school by working as a bikini barista) into the suspenseful plot as it gallops toward a white-knuckle . . . climax.”

Publishers Weekly

“Think big-city CSI teams have it tough? Their examinations of crime scenes are hardly ever interrupted by a grizzly bear like the one that sends Deputy Harold Little Feather to the hospital. . . . Irresistible.”

Kirkus Reviews

“You’ll find yourself obsessed with the story . . . due to McCafferty’s hilarious, spot-on depiction of rural politics (starring a female sheriff, a latte-making love interest, and a fishing buddy), which proves that small western towns are as rich . . . as any world capital.”

Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 (5 Addictive New Mysteries We Can’t Put Down)

 

Dead Man’s Fancy

 

“McCafferty knows his country and his characters, who have a comfortable, lived-in feel and yet shine as individuals. . . . [his] understated prose deserves to be savored.”

Kirkus Reviews

“McCafferty’s beautifully written third mystery . . . The complex, multilayered story smoothly switches from one character to another.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Dead Man’s Fancy breathes new life into the mystery genre with its unique milieu and . . . loveable characters.”

Salt Water Sportsman

“McCafferty’s third series entry lassos up a range of topics—wolf reintroduction, wilderness living and survival, animal rights—that are uncovered through his protagonists’ meticulous sleuthing.”

Library Journal

A PENGUIN MYSTERY

DEAD MAN’S FANCY

Keith McCafferty is the award-winning survival and outdoor skills editor of Field & Stream and the author of The Royal Wulff Murders and The Gray Ghost Murders. A two-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman magazine and the Chicago Tribune and on subjects ranging from trout to tigers. He lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana. Dead Man’s Fancy is his third novel in the Sean Stranahan series.

 

Keith encourages you to visit him at keithmccafferty.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Like many who toil in the murky profession of building words into books or, as writers may privately dare to think of it, turning lead into gold, I work in the dark. Much as I’d like to be able to consult Charles Dickens regarding a plot twist or summon F. Scott Fitzgerald’s advice about a turn of phrase, it’s just me shining the light, digging with the pick. Some nights, many nights, the gold I mine is fool’s gold that floats to the surface and is washed away the next morning; other nights, better nights, it glitters from the bedrock upon which the story is built.

In this manner of working I have never flattered myself as being much different from anyone else. The acknowledgment sections of a few novels to the contrary—so many mentions that one would believe producing a book is a collaboration requiring the manpower of the Normandy Invasion—writing remains a solitary, constantly humbling affair that comes down to one person aspiring to unearth fundamental human truths, or at least tell a compelling story, while stringing together lies summoned from the ether. There’s a measure of irony in the fact that one shuts the door on his fellow man in order to write about him, but recognizing the predicament you have put yourself in doesn’t seem to alleviate the difficulties.

Those who are truly important in a writer’s development belong to a short list indeed, at the top of which is the person who bestows upon him or her the magic of the written word. In my case that is my mother, Beverly McCafferty, whose voice, as she read aloud to me a children’s book about a little snake titled Slim Green, is among my very first memories. Then came the writers whose books first compelled me to turn the pages myself. They include Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jim Corbett. I was nine years old when our car broke down and I found myself with two hours to read in a Denver public library, where I chose a story called “The Talla Des Man-eater” in The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumaon. I opened the book wanting to lead a life of adventure. I closed it wanting to write about it. Rounding out the most important influences are those people who provide the necessary support for the realization of the writer’s dream, and so are not among the well-wishers from afar (nice as it is to have them), but loved ones who not only share the infrequent celebration, but far too often suffer the doubts and fear of failure that plague all writers. My wife, Gail Schontzler, who also is my first and most trusted editor, deserves all the credit for keeping body and soul together.

On the professional side of the ledger, I wish to recognize my literary agent, Dominick Abel, as well as the team at Viking/Penguin who help me polish, publish and promote the final effort. They include Kathryn Court, Tara Singh, Scott Cohen, Beena Kamlani, Mary-Margaret Callahan and Rebecca Lang. Independent bookstore owners remain crucial to bringing writers to the attention of the reading public. None has been more helpful to me than Barbara Peters at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Ariana Paliobagis at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana. I’d also like to thank Hurricane Isaac, which caused an electrical outage in New Orleans that led to Nevada Barr picking up my second novel, The Gray Ghost Murders, to while away a few powerless hours. For her irreverence and encouragement, both personally and professionally, I’m grateful. Dead Man’s Fancy demanded I have a thorough understanding of the wolf reintroduction effort in the Rockies and its ramifications for those who live among these great predators. Many thanks to all those I have interviewed over the past several years, on both sides of this controversial issue. In particular I’d like to recognize Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists Julie Cunningham, Justin Gude and Ken Hamlin, and wolf specialist Mike Ross. Special thanks to Robert Millage.

There are winter days in Montana when the office feels cold even with a wood fire and I need more warmth than Rhett, my adopted feral cat, can provide. On these mornings I bicycle through the snow on studded tires to Wild Joe’s Coffee Shop, where baristas Marissa Grinestaff, Jenalyn Lorilla, Adam Golder, Corissa Hannemann and Melissa Hoard, along with writer pal Sarah Grigg, make me feel at home, and a little less lonely in a lonely line of work.

Finally, there are the remarkable individuals who inspire my best effort simply because I look up to them in life and don’t dare let them down. These include my children, Jessie and Thomas McCafferty, my brother, Kevin McCafferty, and my life-long friend, Karen Basil. And my aunt Jackie Bailie—matchmaker, dog boarder, and doctor of dubious mail-order degrees—who mended spiritually broken children with a wave of her fairy godmother wand, or, when the body needed more succor than a seventy-year-old woman wearing a prom dress and face glitter could provide, passed herself off as a physician and cajoled specialists into seeing patients they otherwise would never have seen.

“You’re just whirring away in there, aren’t you?” Jackie once told a little boy whose thoughts were so jumbled he found it hard to talk. “Some day you’ll be a writer, and I will say I knew you when.”

CHAPTER ONE

Where Trees Grow Close Together

At the sound, Martha Ettinger glanced from the trail, the brim of her hat rising to uncover the early stars. In the foredistance loomed the indigo silhouette of Papoose Mountain. Crooked fingers of pines groped toward the peaks and it was from one of those forests the howl had risen, a deep, sustained note haunted by a higher harmonic that now stirred to song other voices, the lament of the pack dying away to leave her in silence, feeling the beating of her heart.

“What was that, Marth?”

“What do you think it was?” She touched Petal’s ribs and pulled alongside her deputy’s mount, a gelded chestnut walker that had her Appaloosa by four hands.

“I thought I heard wolves.”

“In the Madison Valley? What are the odds?”

“Actually they’re pretty fair, you listen to the ranchers’ bellyaching.”

Ettinger switched off her headlamp. “It’s called irony, Walt. Of course there are wolves in Montana. Anybody has ears can tell you that.”

“Well, I never heard one before.”

“Really?”

“Not that I could be sure of.”

Martha was asking herself how you could mistake a wolf’s howl when three drawn-out notes drifted down from the basin, the first wolf joined by one whose voice was pitched higher, the third higher yet, the chorus recalling to Martha the Inuit folktale of a mother who couldn’t find food to feed her children, her wailing becoming howls until she turned into a wolf herself. She told Walt while the horses blew from the climb.

He made a sound like puh. “That story don’t make no sense ’t all,” he said.

“That’s why it’s called folklore. Come on, we’re here for a reason if you haven’t forgot.”

“I haven’t, but you ask me, that young woman isn’t missing because her horse bolted and stranded her on the mountain, she’s missing ’cause she swapped the saddle for the pommel. Mark my words, she’ll show up tomorrow with a bowlegged walk account a’ too much cowboy lovin’.”

“I’d agree with you if it wasn’t for the likeliest cowboy calling our number.”

“You want to bet a dinner on it? Bison meat loaf at Ted’s Montana Grill if she’s shacked with a fella, frog food at Cafe Provence she turns up lost.”

“I don’t bet when a person’s life could be at stake, but if I had a mind to that’s one I’d hope to lose. I wouldn’t want ...

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9780670014699: Dead Man's Fancy: A Sean Stranahan Mystery (Sean Stranahan Mysteries)

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9781410467393: Dead Mans Fancy (Sean Stranahan Mystery: Thorndike Press Large Print Mystery)

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. The third novel starring Montana's favorite fly fisherman-cum-detective Sean Stranahan, for fans of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box.Cold Hearted River, the sixth in the series, is forthcoming from Viking. Wolves howl as a riderless horse returns at sunset to the Culpepper Dude Ranch in the Madison Valley. The missing woman, Nanika Martinelli, is better known as the Fly Fishing Venus, a red-haired river guide who lures clients the way dry flies draw trout. As Sheriff Martha Ettinger follows hoof tracks in the snow, she finds one of the men who has fallen under the temptress's spell impaled on the antler tine of a giant bull elk, a kill that's been claimed by a wolf pack. An accident? If not, is the killer human or animal? With painter, fly fisherman, and sometimes private detective Sean Stranahan's help, Ettinger will follow clues that point to an animal rights group called the Clan of the Three-Clawed Wolf and to their svengali master, whose eyes blaze with pagan fire. In their most dangerous adventure yet, Stranahan and Ettinger find themselves in the crossfire of wolf lovers, wolf haters, and a sister bent on revenge, and on the trail of an alpha male gone terribly wrong. Seller Inventory # AAS9780143126133

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. The third novel starring Montana's favorite fly fisherman-cum-detective Sean Stranahan, for fans of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box.Cold Hearted River, the sixth in the series, is forthcoming from Viking. Wolves howl as a riderless horse returns at sunset to the Culpepper Dude Ranch in the Madison Valley. The missing woman, Nanika Martinelli, is better known as the Fly Fishing Venus, a red-haired river guide who lures clients the way dry flies draw trout. As Sheriff Martha Ettinger follows hoof tracks in the snow, she finds one of the men who has fallen under the temptress's spell impaled on the antler tine of a giant bull elk, a kill that's been claimed by a wolf pack. An accident? If not, is the killer human or animal? With painter, fly fisherman, and sometimes private detective Sean Stranahan's help, Ettinger will follow clues that point to an animal rights group called the Clan of the Three-Clawed Wolf and to their svengali master, whose eyes blaze with pagan fire. In their most dangerous adventure yet, Stranahan and Ettinger find themselves in the crossfire of wolf lovers, wolf haters, and a sister bent on revenge, and on the trail of an alpha male gone terribly wrong. Seller Inventory # AAS9780143126133

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