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Murder Mysteries with Amnesia: The Best of All Possible Combos

March 14, 2011 by Reader's Connection

Bitch CreekIn an earlier post, I expressed an interest in fiction that involves amnesia; and though I may have devoted only one post to a murder mystery, I´ve revealed my taste for the genre several times. So a series that brings the two together, and features a sleuth who can’t remember much about his life, is bound to catch my fancy. Not that memory loss has ever been a stranger to crime fiction.

Amnesiac fisherman and guide Stoney Calhoun first appears in the 2004 novel Bitch Creek. Response to him was so positive that author William G. Tapply decided to give Stoney a series. In his first outing, Stoney’s protégé and fellow guide Lyle McMahan fails to return from an expedition to a “secret trout pond” with a mysterious Mr. Green.

Gray GhostCalhoun eventually pours himself into the search for Lyle, but he has certain handicaps. He was struck by lightning five years earlier (or so the story goes) and when released from the hospital, he went to Maine because he seemed to have memories of living in the Pine Tree State. His hunks of memory are disconnected. His knows from his muscle memory that he has done a lot of fly-casting, and it becomes clear during his search for Lyle that he has investigative skills. But he doesn’t remember what he used to do for a living. He only knows that he has a nasty scar where the lightning supposedly hit him, and that the otherwise unnamed Man in the Suit shows up periodically to see if Stoney has remembered anything.

Dark TigerI’m sorry to  say that the prolific William Tapply died of leukemia in 2009. He’s perhaps best known for his mystery series involving lawyer Brady Coyne, and he wrote abundantly about fishing for Field and Stream and other periodicals. I haven’t read the Coyne mysteries, but I doubt that Tapply was able to work his fishing obsession into that series as ably as he works it into the daily life of Stoney Calhoun.

The two follow-up novels in this series are Gray Ghost and Dark Tiger. I’m supposed to be reading other things for the blog, but as Gray Ghost begins, Stoney is off to guide some guy named Vecchio on a fishing trip, and I’m throwing my rod and waders in the van.

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