Ex-Los Angeles prosecutor Cal Claxton, who debuted in Warren C. Easley’s Matters of Doubt, returns in Easley’s latest thriller Dead Float. The novel is set in a small town in Oregon near Portland where Claxton has set up a law practice, and even more importantly where he can devote himself to some serious trout fishing on the Deschutes River. What would seem to be an idyllic peaceful setting proves to be something quite different.
When he goes along as a guide on a trip for a friend’s fishing expedition business, the trip very quickly turns into a nightmare when one of the party turns up with his throat slit open. And things go from bad to worse when Claxton’s knife seems to have gone missing, and it turns out that he may have a really good motive to have murdered the victim. For the local investigators, not only is he the most likely suspect, he is really the only suspect. Claxton understands he has a problem. He sets about trying to prove his innocence by pursuing the real killer.
Easley has created a cleverly plotted, workmanlike story planting the requisite seeds to make the eventual climax both suspenseful and believable. The further the reader gets into the story the more compelling the narrative gets, pulsing rapidly from page to page. Although Claxton, presumably a hot shot lawyer from the big city, seems to allow himself to do some very silly things, he does make the most of the information available to him with a little help from his friends.
Easley has an eye for local color. His descriptions of the countryside are vivid. The reader can see his love for the area. And when he talks about fishing and the salmon fly hatch on the Deschutes, the reader can be excused if he thinks he is reading a modern Izaak Walton. Fishing is Claxton’s passion, and Easley’s as well. Whether he is explaining the importance of a tight belt on the angler’s waders or what the best water for fishing would look like, he speaks with authority.
Filled with a roster of interesting characters from a Native American fishing guide and a scholarly veterinarian to a vicious cop and a cartel hit man to a promiscuous wife and a gaggle of feuding tech executives, the novel has, in both the suspects and the investigators, plenty of variety, more than enough to keep the reader guessing, and ultimately provide a satisfactory buzz.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00LA5XAQ0,1464202664]