Dead Man's Fancy (Sean Stranahan Series #3) [NOOK Book]


The third novel starring Montana's fly fisherman-cum-detective Sean Stranahan, for fans of C. J. Box and Craig Johnson

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.

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Dead Man's Fancy (Sean Stranahan Series #3)

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The third novel starring Montana's fly fisherman-cum-detective Sean Stranahan, for fans of C. J. Box and Craig Johnson

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/21/2013
The politics of wolves drives McCafferty’s beautifully written third mystery featuring Montana fly fisherman and sometime PI Sean Stranahan (after 2013’s The Gray Ghosts Murders). Are wolves marauders the ranchers can exterminate? Are they part of the natural landscape, entitled to their share of the countryside? Or perhaps they are mystical creatures worthy of worship. Sean gets entangled in the wolf issue when Sheriff Martha Ettinger deputizes him to help look into the death of ranch hand Grady Cole, who somehow “got himself impaled on the antlers of an elk.” An attractive river guide and wolf activist known as the Fly Fishing Venus is also missing, and the hunt for her—dead or alive—gradually consumes law enforcement. The complex, multilayered story smoothly switches from one character to another. Even readers who think fish comes in a cone with french fries will feel like casting a line in a Montana river. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“McCafferty’s beautifully written third mystery….The complex, multilayered story smoothly switches from one character to another.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred)

“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

“[Dead Man’s Fancy] delivers a carefully plotted western procedural….Good reading for fans of [C. J.] Box, Craig Johnson, Nevada Barr, and Paul Doiron, although McCafferty has his own distinctive voice.”—Booklist

“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

Praise for 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 cliche's 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
“Even amid the serene trout streams of Montana, Sean Stranahan can’t seem to stay out of trouble—and there’s a heap of it in this bracing second adventure for the fly fisher/painter/PI… Field & Stream editor 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. The book’s biggest lure, however, remains Sean and his rugged band of Montana individualists.”—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
“Firmly set in the Montana wilderness and populated by well-drawn characters.
This series will appeal to fans of Nevada Barr and C. J. Box as well as to fly-fishing devotees.”—Booklist

Praise for The Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty

“Sportsmen will find the one-of-a-kind novel captivating, intelligent, and at times uproarious.”—Field & Stream 
"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.  A terrific debut that rings with authenticity and style."—C. J. Box, New York Times bestselling author of Back of Beyond and Force of Nature 
“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.”—The Houston Chronicle 
“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. It helps that McCafferty, an editor at Field & Stream, really knows his trout, and life in Bozeman has obviously acquainted him with the ways of Montana. He writes with both a love of nature…common in the outdoorsman. 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, for Readers
“[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 fish story with a homicidal hook… An entertaining debut.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Blue Ribbon is what they call a trout stream of extremely high quality and that’s what I call Keith McCafferty’s The Royal Wulff Murders—the debut of a frighteningly knowledgeable and wonderfully entertaining series.”—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of The Cold Dish and Hell is Empty

"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 plot line 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
The Royal Wulff Murders hit all my buttons: mystery, flyfishing, Montana, the Madison River, beautiful women, and whole pickup loads of authentic Montana  characters, many of them wonderfully quirky.  Keith McCafferty is one terrific writer.”—Patrick F. McManus, author of The Bear In the Attic and The Huckleberry Murders 

Kirkus Reviews
A rescue attempt gone wrong teams up a Montana sheriff and a part-time private eye. Martha Ettinger, sheriff of Hyalite County, is searching for the employee of a local dude ranch when she discovers a member of her rescue party draped over an elk carcass and impaled on one of the antlers. The distraction of the man's death brings Ettinger no closer to finding the ranch hand, Nanika Martinelli, the Fly Fishing Venus, who's famous for her coppery hair and her affinity with wolves. Emerging from his tepee to help out with the case, Sean Stranahan--fishing guide, artist and detective--gets shot at when he investigates Nanika's abandoned home. Even after a long red hair found in wolf scat suggests that a wolf ate Nanika, her sister Nadina, also known as Asena after the legendary blue-furred wolf, hires Stranahan to keep investigating. A biker calling himself Amorak, a woman with orange eyes, a cult centered on a three-toed wolf and another murder lead the tough, laconic Ettinger and the enigmatic Eastern transplant Stranahan on a twisty path toward resolution. The leads' circumspect dance around each other is only one of the many satisfying elements in Stranahan's third case. McCafferty (The Gray Ghost Murders, 2013, etc.) knows his country and his characters, who have a comfortable, lived-in feel and yet shine as individuals. Although the plot takes its own time to unfold, it doesn't drag; McCafferty's understated prose deserves to be savored.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101614525
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/2/2014
  • Series: Sean Stranahan Series, #3
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 102,179
  • File size: 806 KB

Meet the Author

Keith McCafferty is the awardwinning survival and outdoor skills editor of Field&Stream. He has written articles for Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, and the Chicago Tribune. He lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana. This is his third novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dollycas¿s Thoughts Another wonderful read from Keith McCaffert

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    Another wonderful read from Keith McCafferty!

    This story has so many layers and the author brings them all together with the melodic quality I have to come to expect from him.

    Sean Stranahan is just an awesome character. A fly fisherman who loves nature, animals, fish and fowl. He lives most of the year in a tipi. He is a an very easy going guy, who paints and has found himself to be quite a private investigator even though he is techy challenged. He hates carrying a cell phone and when he does it is rarely on. He investigates the old fashioned way. He talks to people and then heads to a river for a bit of fishing to ponder over what they have told him. Surprisingly he can make all the pieces fall into place to solve the crime.

    Sheriff Martha Ettinger is the perfect woman for Sean. If they could just realize it themselves. They work well together and see eye to eye on most subjects. One would be truly lost without the other.

    The theme that drives this story it the wolf debate taking place out West. I have to stay the author tells both sides of the story very well without being political or preachy. He has created a very captivating mystery that involve parties on both sides.

    What I like best about Keith McCafferty stories is his writing style. The characters jump right off the pages. His descriptive quality not only brings the human characters to life but the setting as well. His builds a story that just ebbs and flows and then the clues start to come together and the pages fly. I had an inkling to what was really happening but with the twists I was never sure if I was on the right track. I love books like this.

    Controversy, revenge, mystery, extremists, murder, deception, trauma, drama…this story has all that and more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2014

    You eat here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    It isn't worth the money.

    The women characterized in this book are hard women with streaks of jealosy that are unreal. The book isn't about wolves or werewolves and the writing is hard to follow. Don't waste your time or your $12.99. I don't want to give this book one star, but the site won't allow me to budge unless I do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    great read

    I truly enjoyed this book what is great is the way the first sets the way for the rest of the series.

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  • Posted February 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is the third book in the Sean Stranahan series, and my intr

    This is the third book in the Sean Stranahan series, and my introduction to this author’s writing. The protagonist is a former private detective who considers himself a Renaissance man: He guides during the trout season, writes for fishing magazines, and paints in the winter (or when he gets a commission); a man who had never owned a gun, his weapon of choice being a can of pepper spray, and whose impatience with modern technology prompts him to throw his flip phone in a lake. The author writers “Never meeting a stranger was a Western trait, and Stranahan had grown up in the East where people conducted business with skins of reserve so thick that you had to peel them like an orange. In that regard, moving to the Rockies had been like coming home.” In this appearance, his assistance is sought by Martha Ettinger, Sheriff of Hyalite County, Montana in two cases she is working on: A wrangler at an area dude ranch is found dead in the backcountry, impaled on an elk antler, and foul play is suspected, and, that same night, a 25-year-old woman on a trail ride from the same ranch has disappeared. It is unknown if the two things are related.

    The characters are all very well-drawn and interesting. Primary among these, besides Sean, is Martha, married and divorced twice, whose history includes having shot a U.S. congressman a year ago, he a murderer and she cleared by a coroner’s inquest, but her memory of the incident is still very sharp. Even lesser players are unique: One of the area residents is Pablo Mendoza, a baritone for the NY Metropolitan Opera.

    A major theme is the antagonism between the environmentalists who want to “bring to light the atrocities man committed against wildlife,” when e.g. wolves had been eradicated early in the 20th century by gun and cyanide stick, after the US Congress passed a bill allowing the reintroduction of the wolf population, a program that started in Yellowstone National Park in 1995, and groups such as Ranchers and Hunters for Taking the Wolf Out of Montana and, generally, ranchers who “hate wolves as much as they hate Democrats.”

    At least initially, I found the book replete with complex CSI calculations, and esoteric fishing and hunting descriptions and terminology, somewhat (well, completely) outside of my usual sphere of knowledge There are many references to fishing lures and ties, e.g., the title of the book is a name given to a fishing tie. I am certain that many readers, with perhaps more familiarity with such things, would not have a problem, but for this reader, it often took me out of the book. But ultimately, I discovered that the novel was filled as well with poetic prose, a good mystery, and a totally unexpected twist, and I closed the book, which was overall very satisfying, with a smile on my face.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    One of the best

    I used to be a fan of the CJ Box novels, find them a bit too depressing now, Sean Stranahan makes me laugh aloud and still feel i am living in the Rockies

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