Reviews by L. J. Roberts

WILLIAM G. TAPPLY – Dark Tiger. St. Martin’s, hardcover, September 2009. No softcover edition scheduled.

Genre:   Unlicensed investigator. Leading character: Stoney Calhoun; 3rd in series. Setting:   Maine.

First Sentence:   Stonewall Jackson Calhoun was sweeping the floor around the display of chest waders and hip boots when the bell dinged over the door, signaling that somebody had come into Kate’s Bait, Tackle, and Woolly Buggers shop.

WILLIAM G. TAPPLY Stoney Calhoun

    Stoney Calhoun has a lot of military-type skills but no memory of how he came by them. But The Man in the Suit checks periodically checks on him to see whether any memories have returns.

    Now the Man needs his help and Stoney can’t refuse. An operative and a young woman were found dead in a car, each with a gunshot wound. What’s interesting is they were both dead before they were shot.

    Stoney, half-owner in a fishing shop and an expert guide, is to go to an exclusive fishing lodge in Northwestern Maine to learn how they died and what the operative was investigating.

    I’ve always liked Tapply’s characters. Stoney is moral, principled, somewhat curious about his past, which he was told he doesn’t remember due to having been struck by lightning, but content to live his life from here forward.

    He is in love with Kate, his business partner, but understands women are different from men and is undemanding. He has skills he doesn’t remember learning and is more curious than surprised when he discovers a new one. Kate’s husband is in long-term care with MS, knows and approves of Kate and Stoney being occasional lovers. And then there’s Ralph, Stoney’s Brittany spaniel, as human as any character except when Stoney talks to him, Ralph doesn’t answer back.

    Tapply’s voice is very Downeast, almost folksy without being patronizing, yet comfortable. Whether Stoney remembers it or not, Tapply let you know he has seen a lot of life… “All creatures had repertoires of survival… All creatures except humans, he thought. Humans just killed each other.”

   You know from the descriptions that Tapply had a great love of Maine and of fishing — he wrote several books on fishing. Those descriptions remind me why I love and miss that part of the country.

    This is not a high-octane, shoot-em-up book. The book is much more character, than plot, driven but has its elements of suspense. Dark Tiger is the last Stoney Calhoun book and was written while Mr. Tapply was suffering from leukemia, from which he died in July 2009.

    I shall miss Stoney, Kate and Ralph, along with Mr. Tapply’s Brady Coyne books, but he is an author whose work I am glad to have read and do recommend.

Rating:   Good Plus.

The Stoney Calhoun series —

       1. Bitch Creek (2004)
       2. Gray Ghost (2007)

WILLIAM G. TAPPLY Stoney Calhoun

       3. Dark Tiger (2009)

Editorial Comment:   For this blog’s tribute to William Tapply at the time of his death, go here.