Belly up to a bar in West Yellowstone or Ennis and you might find yourself talking to a creatively profane fishing guide, a down-on-his-luck artist who can’t afford rent, the millionaire owner of a streamside log-cabin mansion who uses it only two weeks a year, or a pretty woman with a box of trout flies and a cryptic background.

That’s the kind of people you meet in Montana’s trout fishing country. And that’s why The Royal Wulff Murders ($27;, field editor Keith McCafferty’s new novel, features such an eclectic bunch.

Why would McCafferty–a talented elk hunter, survival expert, and unabashed steelhead bum who has written nearly 500 articles for _Field & Stream_–enter the fiction business?

“I decided to write a book the night I slept on the ground on a mountain for a Field & Stream assignment,” says McCafferty, a 30-year Bozeman resident. “It was so cold in the middle of the night that rather than get up, I peed myself. [Editor’s note: Sorry, Keith!] That did it.”

The following is an exclusive online-only excerpt from McCafferty’s novel. It is the second of five parts. Look for Part Three next week. –Mike Toth
WARNING: The following excerpt contains adult language. Reader discretion is advised.


Sean Stranahan leaned back in the swivel chair in his studio, paint-stained Crocs on his desk top, a tumbler stenciled with the emblem of The Famous Grouse in his right hand. A half-finished trout fly, a caddis pupa imitation resembling a wingless moth, was gripped in the clamp of the tying vise in front of him.

His eyes, fatigued from the close work of fly tying, drifted to the newspaper opened on his desk, then to the fluttering leaves of the aspens outside the window. He took a sip of tap water from the tumbler. The afternoon was beginning to ebb and he’d have to make a decision soon if he was going to go fishing. A smile played across his lips. That is, he thought, if it was still safe to drive to the river. His eyes returned to the story in the paper.

Click here to read the rest of this excerpt from THE ROYAL WULFF MURDERS by Keith McCafferty.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from THE ROYAL WULFF MURDERS by Keith McCafferty, to be published on February 16, 2012.
Copyright (C) 2012 by Keith McCafferty