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by Keith McCafferty
Viking, July 2017
304 pages
ISBN: 0525429603

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Summer is an excellent time to read Keith McCafferty's COLD HEARTED RIVER, which is set along the Wyoming/Montana border just as spring is in the air but winter is still on the ground. The days might be providing good weather for Sean Stranahan, fly-fishing guide, artist, and sometimes investigator, to get out on the river, but the nights are still cold enough to kill. McCafferty's descriptions of the harshness of the remote mountains will help keep the reader cool on even the hottest summer day. In this sixth of the Stranahan books, the author shares with the reader the beauty of the harsh Western environment as he has done throughout the series.

The book opens with a couple who relied on the warmth of the day to travel into the wilderness and became stranded without proper equipment as the frigid night arrived. The suspense of their survival attempts grabs the reader from the first words and sets the stage for the underlying mystery – what was the real purpose of their trip into the unforgiving back country? By the time the end of the story is told, Stranahan has gotten himself mixed up in a search for Ernest Hemingway's lost fishing gear and has become entangled with some singularly independent Western characters. Without letting up on the engrossing plot, McCafferty allows himself the time to make each of the characters come alive, providing them with backstories that make them sympathetic and realistic individuals.

Although there are aspects of this book that are enriched by the reader having read the previous entries in the series, such as Stranahan's love life, the book is otherwise a self-contained story that could be read as either a stand-alone or an entry point into the series. McCafferty is a master at weaving his research into his books, and the reader will come away from this one with a greater understanding of Hemingway's life and his writing…and, of course, of the history of fly-fishing.

§ Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in rural Wyoming.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, August 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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