After losing his son in a drowning accident and losing his wife to drugs, other men and her grief, Ned ("Dog") Ogilvie takes off in his camper in an effort to overcome his grief by fishing. Two years after the accident, he finds himself in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a murder victim turns up in the bed of his camper. Most of the locals think he killed the man, although it seems that everyone in the area had motive to want the victim dead and a number of them had both opportunity and access to the murder weapon (fishing line). The mystery is investigated by the sheriff until he is killed. Then the deputy (a Cindy Crawford look-alike who happens to be a lesbian living with a young woman who is the town skank) takes responsibility for the investigation.
For me, Dog was the least interesting and most sketchy character in the story. Some of the others were very interesting: the librarian who dresses like Pippi Longstocking and is having a torrid affair with a crook she hates; the drug-using, would-be crook who thinks he's a hippie and smokes organic cigarettes; the lesbian's lover who is nothing but trash (but is she dangerous?); the old sheriff who is in love with the deputy (and devastated when he learns she is gay); and the librarian's family, consisting of a grandmother with dementia who likes to shoot guns, a couple of far-gone drunks, and a twelve-year old granddaughter with a terrible secret.
The tone was dark and ominous. It reminded me a little of the novel Deliverance. Everybody has secrets and nobody is what they appear to be. Violence and mayhem threaten to erupt at any moment, despite the small town setting one would expect to be peaceful and slow. The imagery in the prose was vivid.
There were a lot of literary references, especially to Hemingway and to classic children's books. Some of the references to Hemingway made me think that if I had read more of his novels, I'd have seen a whole other layer of meaning in this novel. I did "get" virtually every reference to the children's literature.
The weirdly wonderful, unexpected but utterly logical ending made me smile.
I'll definitely read more by this author.
This one came from the Kindle Store. Buy it here.