"Killing a Cold One" by Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press, $26.95) is the ninth in his very popular series starring Michigan DNR conservation officer Grady Service.
Set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, this entertaining tale shifts Service's duties into a new direction, after the mutilated bodies of two Indian girls are discovered in a tent in a remote campground in the Huron Mountains.
Service is pulled into the case, but really doesn't want to get involved - he'd rather stay and patrol the Mosquito Wilderness.
Rumors about the deaths abound; soon Lori Timms, the state's Governor, calls him and wants him to do his own investigation. Service notes: "There's no such thing as a dogman, Sasquatch, skinwalker, vampire, werewolf, windigo, zombie, whatever."
She doesn't care about his opinions - she wants results: "I did not call you to debate or argue with you, Grady... You are to hunt down this creature, whatever and wherever it might be. And having located it, you will do whatever is necessary. Am I clear?"
Grady agrees: "My team, your budget, Governor." and puts together a crew that includes two former Detroit cops. They're joined by Limpy Allerdyce, who's appeared in earlier books in other roles.
The case gets significantly more complicated as the body count rises; Service's crew investigates, making minimal headway. Allerdyce really steals the show as an exceptionally memorable character.
Eventually, an unexpected clue points them in the right direction, the pace speeds up, ending with a violent conclusion.
Heywood's latest novel is overflowing with characters; it may be challenging to keep track of them all.
As usual, Heywood's book is well-researched and excellently captures the uniqueness of the Upper Peninsula and the area's diverse inhabitants. Realism abounds; this case isn't solved overnight like on TV, but takes months and months of hard work and information gathering.
Longtime followers in the "Woods Cop" series are not likely to be disappointed with "Killing a Cold One." Newcomers to the series may want to catch up on earlier books, getting a better understanding of Service's character and opinions.
Intrigued readers will definitely want to catch Heywood's superb anthology that came out earlier this year, "Hard Ground: Woods Cop Stories" or his historical fiction, "Red Jacket" which appeared in 2012.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, October 13, 2013.