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CATCH AND KEEP By Ronald Weber

Write Way Publishing, April, 2000

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Newspaper reporter Fitzgerald, who seems to have no first name, won a modest amount in the lottery, enough for him to take a year off to work on his novel and fish in a small town on the lower Michigan peninsula. His solitude is interrupted when his old boss, No first name Phipps, calls and asks for his help. Allison Thorne, a young reporter from his paper, working on a story in the area, is not answering her phone or e-mail, and Phipps wants him to check on her. Reluctantly, he does so. When he reaches her trailer, located far off the beaten path deep in the woods, he finds her slumped over her computer, with the back of her head blown off. She was supposedly working on a story about a group of fishermen who refused to follow the government policy of "catch and release" of the trout in the Borchard River, and she had hinted to Phipps that something more sinister might be involved. There were rumors of a violent survivalist militia hiding somewhere in the vicinity, and she had been asking questions about it.

While waiting for the authorities to arrive at the crime scene, Fitzgerald searched her computer files, but found only an innocuous story about a few harmless sports fishers who just wanted to keep the fish they caught.

Allison's husband, an older man known to have a violent temper, is the logical suspect in her murder, but his body, too, is found several miles away, in an old house full of cases of contraband liquor. He was killed in exactly the same way as his wife, but with a different gun.

Fitzgerald's girlfriend, Mercy Virdon, a district officer for the Department of Natural Resources, is drawn into the case when Max Ringwald, a retired military man who has caused her grief by fencing off public lands, becomes the prime suspect in the murders. Max has a bad habit of threatening anyone who comes near his property, and it is obvious he has something to hide.

There are some interesting details about trout fishing and illegal booze running, and some nice descriptions of the scenery, but it's not too hard to figure out the murderer considering the small pool of potential killers.

Also by this author: THE ALUMINUM HATCH.

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