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The body of a cranky heiress kick-starts Houston's uneven ninth installment in her backwoods Wisconsin series featuring spunky police chief Lewellyn "Lew" Ferris (after 2007's Dead Madonna). Along with Paul Osborne, a retired town dentist and deputy coroner, Lew investigates the murder of Nolan Reece, whose battered body washes ashore one Thanksgiving morning. Shorthanded, Lew and her on-again off-again beau enlist the help of Ray Pradt, a skilled local tracker-poacher with the ears of a wolf, to unravel the tangled motives surrounding the death of the universally unpopular Nolan. Houston often overloads her characters with familiar backstories (both Paul and Ray are recovering alcoholics) and infuses her subplots with predictable red herrings, such as the angst of Nolan's teenage daughter, Blue. Still, series fans will appreciate Loon Lake's starring role, with its local color and murderous urges lurking just beneath the placid waters. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.