Can’t-Wait Wednesday: A Death in Eden by Keith McCafferty


Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

A Death in Eden by Keith McCafferty

Series: Sean Stranahan Mystery#7

Published by Viking

Publishing date: July 3, 2018

Genre: Mystery

320 pages

Synopsis: Scarecrows are appearing in the cliffs above the Smith River in Montana, and state investigator Harold Little Feather, is trying to discover the culprit leaving the hay figures in the cliffs, with signs painted that read “No Smith River Mine–Not on My Watch.” The event is related to a copper mine project that threatens the river, but his investigation takes an ominous turn when a little girl claims that a scarecrow chased her in the night.

At the same time, Sean Stranahan and his friend “Rainbow” Sam Meslik have been contracted as guides to float a party down the river, which includes the manager of the mine project and the president of “Save Our Smith,” a grassroots organization devoted to stopping the project. Both men grew up on the Smith on neighboring ranches. When a dead body is found in the park, it’s revealed that the two have a shared history that runs much deeper and darker than their opposing viewpoints.


I’m several books behind with this mystery series, but I really like Keith McCafferty’s writing and the characters and mysteries in this series. The fly fishing setting in Montana is also a great plus!

What books are you looking forward to reading when they’re available?

Waiting on Wednesday: April 5

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.


cold-hearted-river-by-Keith-mccaffertyCold Hearted River

by Keith McCafferty

Series: Sean Stranahan #6

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: July 4

Synopsis: A story of lost treasure, Cold Hearted River begins with the death of a woman, stranded in a spring snowstorm, who in desperation climbs into a bear s den. When Sheriff Martha Ettinger, reunited with once-again lover Sean Stranahan, investigates, she finds a fly wallet in a pannier of the dead woman’s horse, the leather engraved with the initials EH. Only a few days before, Patrick Willoughby, the president of the Madison River Liars and Fly Tiers Club, had been approached by a man selling fishing gear that he claims once belonged to Ernest Hemingway. A coincidence? Sean doesn’t think so, and he soon finds himself on the trail of a missing steamer trunk rumored to contain not only the famous writer’s valuable fly fishing gear, but priceless samples of his unpublished work.

The investigation will take Sean through extraordinary chapters in Hemingway’s life. Inspired by a true story, Cold Hearted River is a thrilling adventure, moving from Montana to Michigan, where a woman grapples with the secrets in her heart, to a cabin in Wyoming under the Froze To Death Plateau, and finally to the ruins in Havana, where an old man struggles to complete his life’s mission one true sentence at a time.”


The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • I like Sean Stranahan and these mysteries.
  • The mysteries take place in Montana north of Yellowstone National Park and revolve around fly fishing. My dad was a fly fisherman and tied his own ties. He fished the rivers of Oregon, but I feel closer to him when I read these books.
  • These books are a meld of police procedural and private investigation, because while Sean works as a fly fishing guide, artist and private investigator he also often works with Sheriff Martha Ettinger.
  • I love the cover!



The Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty

the-royal-wulff-murdersThe Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty
Series: Sean Stranahan series #1
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Montana
Published by Viking, 2012
Library book
352 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: A clever and fast-paced murder mystery full of wit, suspense, and fly fishing.

When a fishing guide reels in the body of a young man on the Madison, the Holy Grail of Montana trout rivers, Sheriff Martha Ettinger suspects foul play. It’s not just the stick jammed into the man’s eye that draws her attention; it’s the Royal Wulff trout fly stuck in his bloated lower lip. Following her instincts, Ettinger soon finds herself crossing paths with Montana newcomer Sean Stranahan.

Fly fisher, painter, and has-been private detective, Stranahan left a failed marriage and lackluster career to drive to Montana, where he lives in an art studio decorated with fly-tying feathers and mouse droppings. With more luck catching fish than clients, Stranahan is completely captivated when Southern siren Velvet Lafayette walks into his life, intent on hiring his services to find her missing brother. The clues lead Stranahan and Ettinger back to Montana’s Big Business: fly fishing. Where there’s money, there’s bound to be crime.

In Sean Stranahan’s philosophy of life, any man who had a fly rod, a quarter tank of gas, and four decent tires was never too far from home.


The rainbow marked the end of a story that had begun nearly nine months ago and he was reluctant to open his hand. Trout are the ghosts of moving waters, gone like the dreams one longs to remember. When this one glimmered away, he felt as if he’d caught smoke or that it had never been there in the first place.

Initial impressions

  • I love the Montana setting with fly fishing, the beautiful outdoors and rivers and the dichotomy of the people who flock to the Montana rivers for the fishing–some who have vacation homes in Montana, but only spend a few weeks every year in the state–and those who live year round and try to make a living in Montana.

The story

  • When a body is found in a popular fly fishing river the sheriff wonders if the young man is a victim of accidental drowning or murder.
  • Sean Stranahan is a painter, but not selling too many paintings. He’s recently come to Montana from New England and he’s living in his studio. He was a private detective in New England so his studio door is marked with both “Blue Ribbon Watercolors” and “Private Investigations.”
  • Velvet Lafayette walks into Sean’s office and hires him to find her father’s fishing spot. And keep his eye out for her brother. Sean asks her for her brother’s description since he has heard about the drowned fisherman. The two descriptions don’t match.
  • Sheriff Ettinger questions Sean while he’s out fishing when she and her deputies are questioning fishermen who might have seen something along the river where the young man died.
  • Later Sean is fishing with the fishing guide who found the body when someone shoots the guide. Sean manages to save the guide’s life and meets up again with Sheriff Ettinger.
  • They investigate these events from two different directions.


  • I enjoyed this book partly because I grew up living in the U.S. West and loving the outdoors, but I don’t think you have to be familiar with those aspects of the book to enjoy this story.
  • When Velvet Lafayette walks into Sean’s life I felt a flash of the hard-boiled detective story such as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon where the femme fatale leads the detective on. Velvet has a rather bizarre story and it’s hard to know if she’s telling the truth.
  • The story revolves around trout, fly fishing and rivers in Montana. I loved all the outdoor scenes and writing. I grew up camping and fishing with my family in Oregon. My Dad tied his own flies so I relate to the fly tying and fishing.
  • The Royal Wulff fly (which you can see on the cover of the book) is a dry-fly pattern originally tied by Lee Wulff in the 1930’s and still used by fishermen today. It resembles a number of different types of mayflies. I like the authenticity that Mr. McCafferty uses without making the book boring.
  • The book also features Sheriff Martha Ettinger who has fought her way to the top of her profession. Along with her department she investigates the death of the young man found in the river. She’s a great character to read about. We see only a little of the woman behind the sheriff and I like that.
  • The characters are well-written and varied. We have both the sheriff’s and Sean’s points-of-view and since they are coming at things from two different directions that makes the story interesting as I wondered where their investigations would converge.
  • I love the humor in the story. In the first paragraph: “The client, whose largest trout to date had been the size of a breakfast sausage, reared back as if to stick a tarpon.” That sets the stage for lots more humor!
  • I like Keith McCafferty’s writing a lot. I think an outdoorsman and writer like Mr. McCafferty is something of a philosopher and I find some of that in his writing along with a great story.


  • There might be too much “fish” talk for some readers, but I think the book is worth reading through that even if you don’t like fishing.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m ready to read more books by Mr. McCafferty! I’ve bought the second book in the series and hope to read it soon. The fourth book in the series–Crazy Mountain Kiss–comes out in June 2016.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • As well as being a novelist for Viking/Penguin Books, Keith McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fishekeith-mccaffertyrman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Gray’s Sporting Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globe–he recently spent a month in India trekking the Himalayas, fishing for golden mahseer and studying tigers–Keith has won numerous awards, including the Robert Traver Award for angling literature. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Reading Challenges

Waiting on Wednesday: March 16

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.


crazy-mountain-kissCrazy Mountain Kiss by Keith McCafferty

Series: Sean Stranahan #4

Publication Date: June 9

Synopsis (from Goodreads): It’s April, but there’s still snow on the Montana mountains the day a member of the Madison River Liar and Fly Tiers club finds a Santa hat in the chimney of his rented cabin. With the flue clogged and desperate to make a fire, he climbs up to the roof, only to find the body of a teenage girl wedged into the chimney. When Sheriff Martha Ettinger and her team arrive to extract the body they identify the victim as Cinderella “Cindy” Huntingdon, a promising young rodeo star, missing since November.

Was Cindy murdered? Or running for her life—and if so, from whom? Cindy’s mother, Etta, hires private detective Sean Stranahan to find out. Jasper Fey, the girl’s stepfather, believes moving on is the only way to heal. But Etta’s not willing to let it go, and neither are Sean or Martha, who find clues to the death in the mysterious legends of the Crazy Mountains. The fourth book in McCafferty’s mystery series features a brisk, savvy plot and charming yet authentic characters—perfect for fans of C. J. Box and Craig Johnson.


Why I want this book

  • I read the first book in this series and really liked it.
  • The books are set in Montana about an avid fly fisherman who is also a private detective.
  • The series also has a female sheriff so the books are also a little bit police procedural–which I like!

What about you? Is there some book you are waiting impatiently for?