He's content with his life in a quiet town in Maine - he works for Kate Balaban, selling rods, tying flies and taking customers out to the many semi-secret fishing spots dotted around Casco Bay. It's Stoney's turn to act as guide, but he doesn't warm to Fred Green, a conventioneer from Florida interested in hooking a brook trout. So he calls his fellow guide, and closest friend, to do it instead.
When Lyle McMahon doesn't show for a meeting, Stoney's not alarmed - Lyle's reliable but he's young. Kate's not so sanguine, and after calling his anxious girlfriend, Stoney starts to feel uneasy, too. When Lyle's truck turns up, parked in the yard of the local high school, keys in the ignition, Stoney starts to worry; finding Lyle's body partly submerged in his secret fishing hole fills Stoney with sadness, guilt, and a desire for justice.
Bitch Creek is the first in a trilogy cut short by the untimely death of Tapply, an avid fisherman and writer apparently better known for his Brady Coyne mystery series. the writing, like the protagonist, is laconic, spare and deceptively effortless. Tapply manages to convey a lot with few words, and the plot I've outlined is only one of several that wind through the novel.
There are flashes of back story about how Stoney ended up in Casco Bay, the evolution of his relationship with his married boss, a mysterious government man who regular checks in on Stoney's recalcitrant memory, and a lot more about the art of fishing and fly tyin
g than I ever thought I'd have any interest in. So much so, in fact, that I've already got the second in the series (Gray Ghost) out on loan, and have my eye on the third. - Alex
The Stoney Calhoun trilogy:
To read the first chapter of Bitch Creek click here.