(starred review!) At the outset of Galligan's stunning third Montana-set fly-fishing mystery (after 2005's The Blood Knot), Ned “Dog” Oglivie, a self-described “traveling drunk” and “trout hound” who lives out of his asthmatic 1984 Cruise Master RV, has befriended a jailed bull rider's daughter, Jesse Ringer, and her black boyfriend, D'Ontario Sneed.
Then, off a mountain road outside Livingston, soon after an ugly encounter with skinheads, Dog finds Jesse shot to death on the ground and Sneed unconscious in Jesse's sealed car, nearly dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Sneed's earthy mother, Aretha, supplies Dog with comfort and common sense as he seeks to prove Sneed didn't murder Jesse.
With a plot as entangled as a drunkard's fishing line, this Big Sky excursion into the wilds of human frailty deftly and surely snags the imagination. The ending offers just a hint, elusive as that legendary brown trout of fishermen's dreams, of redemption for Galligan's beguiling antihero. (Sept.)
The Clinch Knot: A Fly Fishing Mystery John Galligan. Bleak House (www.bleakhousebooks), $24.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-60648-003-8; $14.95 paper ISBN 978-1-60648-004-5
I'm a devoted John Galligan fan. You will be too.