The Clinch Knot

Reviewed by Monica Mullen

The Dog is a trout bum with a weakness for vodka and Tang. He travels from state to state in a beat-up Cruise Master RV, fishing premier flywaters. Then D'Ontario Sneed literally falls into his life.

Sneed immediately decides to start traveling with Dog and is well on the way to becoming a full blown trout bum himself when he falls madly in love with a local girl, Jesse Ringer.

Some of the locals object to this relationship based solely on Sneed's skin color; however, both Jesse and Sneed have had troubled childhoods and have a lot to talk about with each other, including fishing. Jesse becomes Dog and Sneed's personal guide to the local waters.

Dog soon realizes that he is basically the "third wheel" in camp and decides to move along to bigger and better waters when the skinheads show up. Feigning interest in fly fishing, the skinheads burn Sneed's tent to the ground and leave a warning for Sneed to get out of town.

Then, it happens. After contacting the Sheriff's Department and attempting to leave warnings for Jesse and Sneed on his way out of town, Dog decides to stop at one of the local pieces of water that Jesse had shown him. That's when he finds them. Jesse shot in the head. Sneed passed out in her car in an apparent suicide attempt.

Leaving Sneed brain damaged and Jesse dead, Dog launches into an investigation of his own to find the truth of what happened.

Top-Flight Mystery Novel

Set in Livingston, Montana, The Clinch Knot is written with a passion for fly fishing that I have not seen in a mystery novel before. It includes a corrupt sheriff's department, fighting river guides, fly tying, fishing, drug smuggling, theft, bull riders, rodeo clowns, skinheads, movie stars, sex, and drinking.

The author draws you directly into the story. He makes you laugh when he describes the skill it takes to extract yourself from a picnic table where you were tying flies, and makes you cry when he reveals the past that Dog has been trying to avoid.

I would recommend this book to all those who love a good mystery. Having a love of fishing, camping, or simply being outdoors only heightens the experience of the novel.

Monica Mullen and her husband Moon live in Springfield, Oregon, where they can often be found fly fishing the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.