Book review: ‘Dead Water’ by Victoria Houston

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Doc Osborne was a retired dentist who occasionally was deputized to assist Loon Lake Police Chief Louellen Ferris. Ray Pratt, his neighbor and friend, sometimes was deputized, too. Because Osbourn had some experience with forensic dentistry, he subbed for the politically appointed coroner from time to time. Pratt, whose primary job was as a hunting and fishing guide, was the very best regarding tracking and knowledge of the area.

Both were called upon when a woman was found shot to death in a remote area. It appeared her body was dumped there since there was little blood. The investigation was hardly underway when they were called regarding a second body in another location. The second was less remote, and the woman was known, since she was staying at a local bed and breakfast. She had left for a run and later was found shot in the head. She apparently had been shot in another location.

With the help of the bed and breakfast owners, the dead woman was identified as Amy Olson of Kansas City. Her emergency contact was Gina Palmer, a journalist in Kansas City. Gina was called and asked to come to Loon Lake to provide a positive identification of her friend. She purported to know who had killed Ashley Olson — Michael Winston, a former boyfriend. She would bring pictures.

Chief Ferris also had a lead on the other body. A local family had reported a daughter missing, and further investigation established that the missing daughter was their other murder victim. The only relationship that there seemed to be between the two women was that they were both shot in the head by a high-powered rifle.

Besides the murders, a secondary drama involved Ray Pratt. A former girlfriend had sent a teenage boy, Nick, to him claiming Nick was his son. To offset the teen’s frustration with the lack of Wi-Fi service on Ray and Doc’s phone line, Nick was introduced to Carl, a local gamer and computer guru about Nick’s same age. The relationship worked, and Carl even got Nick a part-time job where he worked, the Wildwood Game Preserve. Nick worked at the game preserve for a man named Hank Kendrickson. Kendrickson had made quite a splash in the area as he promoted his reserve, his hunting and fishing abilities and even courted Chief Ferris. Doc Osbourn didn’t like him. The fact that he employed the boys was a plus, however.

Ashley Olson arrived in Loon Lake and identified her friend’s body. She still maintained that the killer was Michael Winston and that he must be somewhere in the area. At this point, the reader is convinced that Michael Winston and Hank Kendrickson must be the same person, but Ashley meets Hank Kendrickson and doesn’t recognize him. 

My grandfather was a fisherman, my father was a fisherman, and I have a brother who is a fisherman; I’m not. Reading the quotes that front each chapter in “Dead Water” makes me think maybe I should be.

Victoria Houston is the 2021 Vernon County Reads author. She has written 19 books of the “Loon Lake” mystery series. All of them are set in Wisconsin’s Northwoods and explore some aspect of fishing. She will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Performing Arts Center in Westby. Free tickets are available online at wapac.ludus.com or at the door.

Comments are closed.

  • Royall Education Notes: Concert dates set; district likely to run referendum in April

    November 26th, 2021
    by

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this finds you with a full belly, surrounded by friends and family. We have had a solid start to the school year at Royall, and we continue to move forward despite the pandemic still lingering around. 


    Scenic Bluffs offers free Affordable Care Act enrollment services

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    The open-enrollment period for Marketplace insurance, also known as Affordable Care Act, is now open until Jan. 15, 2022. 


    Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Only a few days remain for Medicare enrollees to make choices about their health coverage for next year. Tuesday, Dec. 7, is the last day of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, when decisions can be made about health and prescription coverage for 2022.


    Mile Bluff: Covid surge continues to impact access to healthcare

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Critically high — these are the words used to classify Covid-19 disease activity in Juneau County between Nov. 3–16 (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/local.htm). 


    Ontario Old-Fashioned Christmas is canceled

    November 25th, 2021
    by

    Citing concerns over the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Ontario Community Club has canceled its Old-Fashioned Christmas event, which had been set for Saturday, Dec. 11.


  • N-O-W sets special board meeting for Monday

    November 19th, 2021
    by

    The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education will have a special board meeting Monday.


    Sponsorships, memorial donations sought for Norwalk’s flower baskets

    November 18th, 2021
    by

    One of the highlights of driving through Norwalk in the summer are the flower baskets hanging from the light poles and the planters lining the street. 


    Juneau County moves to crisis model for Covid-19 contact tracing

    November 12th, 2021
    by

     As daily Covid-19 case counts continue to rise in Juneau County, the Juneau County Health Department no longer has the capacity to follow up with everyone who is positive with Covid-19 and their close contacts.


    Book review: ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Bronte

    November 11th, 2021
    by

    Lucy Snowe is the main character and the narrator of “Villette.” Villette is a community in the fictional country of Labassecour (French is the native language and appears occasionally in the book).


    Schools report lower Covid-19 figures

    November 11th, 2021
    by

    Both the Royall and the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton school districts reported low Covid-19 numbers this week. 


    Brookwood theatre to present ‘Greek Mythology Olympiaganza’

    November 4th, 2021
    by

    Brookwood will present the comic production “Greek Mythology Olympiaganza” on Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 P.M. in the Classic Gym.


  • Archives