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   Weatherman's Daughters, The, by Richard Hoyt  
  Novel, first publication in July 2003
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      While the world has evolved over the more than two decades since John Denson took on his first case (in Decoys), this randy pony-tailed PI seems to have gotten stuck somewhere back in the timestream. Forty-seven years old when we meet him again in Richard Hoyt's The Weatherman’s Daughters, Denson is still smoking pot, still referencing Carlos Castaneda, and driving a 30-year-old Volkswagen microbus. Yet his quirky perspective and "soft-boiled" style often work in his favor, as demonstrated in this lively, philosophical yarn involving flying seafood, right-wing militants, and ancient Chinese medicine.
    Driving back to his cabin in northwest Oregon, Denson is caught in a freakish shower of live salmon, the fish being sucked from the adjacent Columbia River by a giant waterspout. Amid this deluge, he discovers a young woman with a bullet hole in her chest and one of his business cards in her wallet. Police identify her as Sharon Toogood, daughter of a legendary Portland TV weatherman and the part-owner of a chain of New Age health stores. Had she been on her way to hire Denson or his Cowlitz Indian partner, putative shaman Willie Sees the Night? Her sister, Mariah, says Sharon was investigating something that could hurt their father's reputation, but before our hippie-ish hero can learn more, Mariah turns up dead as well. Doubting the conclusion of suicide, Denson sets out to learn who murdered the Toogood siblings and whether their passings are linked to a gang of poachers who've been killing bears for their gall bladders. Solving these mysteries, though, will force the detective (with Willie's guidance) to make an out-of-body house call on his "demented" creator.

    Hoyt's plot twists occasionally beggar belief, his dialogue can be pedantic, and most of his characters are insufficiently developed (the notable exception here being a double-jointed exotic dancer with computer smarts). Several of the previous seven Denson novels, including Siskiyou and Fish Story, were more ingeniously conceived and tightly constructed than The Weatherman's Daughters. However, the obvious delight Hoyt takes in dispatching his "aging dork" of a gumshoe to odd corners of the Pacific Northwest to talk with even odder locals rarely fails to entertain. If Hunter S. Thompson were to create a fictional detective, he might look very much like John Denson.

    Source: J. Kingston Pierce,

    In The Weatherman's Daughters, Richard Hoyt returns to his highly acclaimed John Denson mystery series with a natty new twist.

    Frustrated by his inability to trace a criminal monster, Denson sets down his skepticism and accepts, provisionally, the shamanistic ways of his Native partner, Willie Prettybird. Out-of-body flying? Entering the spirit of an animal? Can it be true? Can Denson solve murders by playing Carlos Castaneda to Willie's Don Juan?

    Two daughters of a Portland weatherman have been killed for no apparent reason. Denson and Willie are called from their remote cabins on Whorehouse meadow in the Cascade Mountains to help. But for once Denson is stumped-this is a trail he can't seem to follow.

    An exotic dancer wants to join the investigation, and Denson cannot resist her. But does she really intend to help? Or is she a spy or saboteur?

    Willie offers Denson a challenge. Since your rational ways aren't working, open the door to shamanism. Leave your body and seek to join the spirit of an animal who might be a guide.

    Fearing that he will never come back, Denson takes the risk.

    The trail revealed smells of bear galls, ancient Chinese medicine, and right-wing malcontents. Denson, the tracker, is profoundly changed by his discoveries.

      Part of series  
  • John Denson Mystery (#6)

      Related theme(s)  
  • Detectives - Sleuths - Pis - Bounty Hunter
  • Earth
  • Murders
  • Mystery
  • Native Americans
  • U.S.A.

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