Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Victoria Houston's New Loon Lake Mystery: DEAD INSIDER

Rain clouds are moving across the valley as I write; we are in for another drenched afternoon, and it's becoming "ordinary" to see flood warnings ticking across the TV screen in the evening. What a great season to dip into the newest in Victoria Houston's Loon Lake mystery series, though: DEAD INSIDER, where a catastrophic August rainstorm in northern Wisconsin includes the revelation that, neatly wrapped like butchered meat, parts of a human are floating through the Loon Lake run-off.

Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris knows how to recruit her friends and colleagues to assist her crew in coping with the threat to health, tourism, and safety -- but the media circus that erupts when the victim's identity is revealed goes way beyond her expectations. After all, not only was the murdered woman running for the U.S. Senate, but someone is going to inherit her fortune. Along with the money comes a family heritage that's darker than most, and the possibility of multiple motives.

"Lew" makes a good choice pulling into the case retired dentist "Doc" Osborne. In many ways he's already involved -- much of the action unfolds from his own point of view -- and he's a low-key Watson to her investigation:
During Osborne's first stint as the deputy coroner for the Loon Lake Police Department, Lew had discovered he could be an unexpected asset during the questioning of suspects. The reason? Men and women hear differently. Depending on the listener -- emotions, facts, even words can have ambiguous meanings.

More than once each had surprised the other with an interpretation of a response that changed the direction of the investigation.
Stakes are high, financial, political, powerful, and by pushing into the flood of events and desires around her, Lew raises the risk level as well.

Houston weaves a neat traditional mystery with up-to-the-minute recognition of how small-town life has changed in an era of global politics. This one goes on the "keep it" stack for summer reading (flyfishing! suspense!), regional interest (northern Wisconsin), and well-crafted female police chief (still a rarity). I can already see I'll be watching for the earlier books in the series, which is:
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 
The official release date for DEAD INSIDER is June 18. Luckily, there's no need to read the other titles beforehand ... but, like me, you may decide you'd like to gather a few more for the shelf.

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