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Bitch Creek: A Novel Hardcover – September 1, 2004

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reliable Tapply introduces a new series with a real page-turner set in rural Maine. Stoney Calhoun, "a man without a history," lost his memory in a lightning strike five years earlier. Soon after the accident, Stoney left a rehab hospital in Virginia with a $25,000 check in his pocket from an insurance settlement, drove "Downeast" to live in seclusion along the eponymous creek of the title and began work at Kate Balaban's bait and tackle shop. One morning he foists an unsavory customer planning a wilderness trip onto Lyle McMahan, a local college student and fellow guide, and neither is seen again until Stoney finds Lyle's body floating in an alder swamp with a bullet in his belly. Gnawed by guilt over Lyle's murder, Stoney, with his faithful spaniel, Ralph, searches remote villages, farms and woodlands for his friend's killer, and while doing so, finds clues to his own mysterious past. Tapply's down-to-earth style provides an uncomplicated plot with striking descriptions of Maine's wildest topography, though a far-fetched and excessively violent resolution spoils the rustic mood. Tantalizing questions about Stoney's previous life remain for a future installment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Ostensibly the victim of a lightning strike, Stoney Calhoun is a man without a past, or at least a past he can remember. Fleeting memory snippets draw him to rural Maine, where he builds a home by the curiously named Bitch Creek. Time passes, and he becomes close to a small circle of friends in the community: fishing guide Lyle, police chief Dickman, and Kate Balaban, owner of a fish and tackle shop who becomes Stoney's sometime employer and sometime lover. When Stoney finds Lyle dead, after referring a guide job to him, he begins to poke around the case, trying to figure out what happened and why. The more Stoney delves into the incident, the more he comes to realize he was a cop of some sort in his unremembered life. He also learns he has the capacity and training for violence and intimidation. As in his long-running series starring quixotic Boston lawyer-sleuth Brady Coyne, genre veteran Tapply mixes crisp plotting and character development with a subtle sense of time and place. This has the makings of a fine new series. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592284353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592284351
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kaye Barlow on February 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tapply, the author of the excellent Brady Coyne series is back with a new character. An interesting twist is that the character, Stoney Jackson has almost no memory because of being hit by lightening. Only an author of the caliber of Tapply could bring of this rather bizarre, interesting premise. His memory has not completely disappeared and there are many hints of his previous occupation that will provide more plots in the future, I expect.

Stoney has built himself a house in the woods, is finding happiness in his involvement with his boss, Kate, another interesting character. Kate is married to a man with MS and brings greater depth to the story. Tapply capitalizes on his love and knowledge of fishing, the outdoors, animals and Maine to bring a real sense of place to the story. Life is getting better for him when a fellow worker and friend is murdered and Stoney suspects that he was the intended victim.

The plotting and pace carries this book along and it is a page turner. One small caveat is that the final solution/reason for the murder seems a bit forced but one does not feel this until the book is completed. A good read and recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Tapply's Brady Coyne mysteries will find his new "hero," Stonewall Jackson Calhoun, at least as interesting. Stoney has been living for five years in the southernmost corner of Maine, working at a bait and tackle shop. He has a woman who loves him, a best friend, a faithful Brittany spaniel, and a house that he has built with his own hands. What Stoney does not have is a remembered past. More than six years ago, he was struck by lightning and has lost his ability to call up memories. All he knows about his past is what people have told him--that he is originally from Beaufort, South Carolina, and that he has an ex-wife about whom he has no recollection.

When Fred Green, an out-of-towner, comes into the shop to hire Stoney to take him fishing for native Maine trout, Stoney begs off and calls a young friend, Lyle McMahan, to take his place. Green, like many dedicated fishermen, knows a secret fishing spot, and when Green and Lyle set out, no one knows exactly where they are going. When Lyle does not return that night or the next day, Stoney and Kate, who owns the shop, become worried, and Stoney determines to find him. In a remote area, he finds Lyle's body at the edge of a trout pond, his "belly boat" deflated.

Alternating back and forth in time, the narrative details Stoney's search for Lyle's killer, while revealing Stoney's own background, along with his present life and relationships. We meet many unique local characters, and we learn about the wooded land Stoney has bought on Bitch Creek, about the Great Fire of 1947, and about the history of the area, the interrelationships of the people who live there, and the Down East spirit which imbues their lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tapply, author of the popular Brady Coyne novels, kicks off a new series featuring Stoney Calhoun, a loner whose past is a mystery even to himself. Five years earlier (than when, we're not sure - there are no cell phones in this story), he arrived in western York County, Maine, after 18 months in a hospital recovering from a lightning strike. Or so he's been told.

Stoney remembers nothing of his former life and "the Man in the Suit" comes around periodically to make sure he doesn't, Stoney assumes. Stoney's present is deliberately quiet: a job in a Portland bait shop tying flies and guiding fishermen; a discreet affair with the boss; a good dog; and a house in the woods along Bitch Creek, a fine place to contemplate the mysteries of trout and life.

Then he passes a repellent client off to friend and fellow guide, Lyle McMahan, a college student and avid naturalist, and Lyle disappears. Stoney himself finds the body, face down in a pond, murdered. And Stoney, who has flashes of memory he keeps to himself and discovers new abilities when the need for them arises, finds he has a knack for investigating. Which melds perfectly with his photographic memory and his hunter's instincts.

This character-driven novel with its tantalizing, sinister hints about the past and Stoney's complex, nuanced reflections and discoveries, has a laconic, atmospheric prose style. Tapply fleshes out the absorbing plot with crucial bits of local history, like the 1947 forest fire that burned out so many hardscrabble farmers. Readers may deduce the murderer before Stoney does, but not the why, and the ending gives Stoney a chance to use all his talents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on September 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Struck by lightening, Stoney Calhoun had his memory erased. Well, mostly erased. There are images that come back once in a while. Some of these images drew him to Maine where he is working in a fishing tackle shop and doing a bit of guiding.

Then there's the murder.

Stoney begins looking into the murder, surprising himself by discovering he's a trained investigator.

And for any more than that you have to read the book. I will say a few things more about the book. It's excellent. It's the thirty-something book from this author, twenty one of which have featured the character Brady Coyne. As you finish this book, you can only hope that this is not the end of Stoney Calhoun, his girl friend Kate and the Maine fishing business.
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