David Riley Bertsch, a former lawyer who became a fly fishing guide, clearly knows the craft of fly fishing and has a great love of the outdoors. In his first novel, "Death Canyon", http://www.amazon.com/Death-Canyon-Jake-Trent-Novel/dp/1451698003, the descriptions of the great outdoors, lures, fly fishing, the river, and the natural environment are all a reader could want. The real question for the reader is whether the mystery works as well. And it does to some extent. There is also a lot of twists and turns in the plot and plenty of action.
Jake Trent, is a former prosecutor who gave up his career to move to Jackson Hole, where he became an inn owner and fly fishing guide in Jackson Hole. Noelle Klimpton is a park ranger, whose turf covers the same area. Both Trent and Klimpton discover dead bodies. Trent finds a guy who looked like he drowned. Klimpton finds a mauled dead man and gravely injured woman, who appear to have been attacked by a bear. Then a third man dies in an odd avalanche.
The Sheriff suspects that Trent is involved in killing the victim that he found, so Trent is motivated to discover the real killer in order to clear his name. Klimpton thinks the bear attack was no accident. They soon join forces to investigate the deaths. A bear expert that Klimpton knows casts doubt on the bear attack theory. Their private investigation takes off.
When Trent's friend and employee is nearly killed in a hit and run, by a car registered to Trent, but not driven by him, Trent and Klimpton have a big breakthrough.
There are also some romantic sparks between them.
The clues soon start to pile up that there is something else afoot, from the mysterious and evil Shaman, to his cult like followers, who are tracking Trent's every move, to the odd earthquakes that are constantly hitting the Parks, to the fact that Trent and his friend are fired upon. What is happening and who has it in for Trent?
Where the novel goes off the rails a bit is in Trent's back story. At first he was a mere prosecutor in the East Coast, then he went on special raids, then there is an allusion to special forces training.
Another weird part of the story concerns the identity of the people actually involved in the earthquakes. It just feels too contrived.
But for these two minor glitches, the novel holds together well and the great outdoors sparkles.
This could be a keeper series. The Trent - Klimpton team feels right to me. We will have to see how it pans out in later volumes.