|Arkansas River guide Mandy Turner is getting over the death her beloved uncle. After his recent death, she merged Bill’s failing white water rapids business with her boyfriend Rob’s and the two are doing fairly well, though Rob and Mandy’s accountant brother thinks that it’s time to expand the business and needs Mandy to sell her uncle’s house, something she is not quite ready to do.
Mandy’s full time job is as a River Ranger; while patrolling the shores, cleaning up in preparation for an upcoming fly fishing tournament in Salida, Colorado, Mandy and her partner Steve stumble across the body of Howie Abbott, a fisherman entered in the competition and the uncle of Mandy’s best friend Cynthia, keeper of all jokes blonde. Cynthia’s reaction to Uncle Howie’s death is not at all what Mandy expects: Cynthia expresses no love lost for Uncle Howie and seems glad he’s dead.
Mandy chalks part of this up to worry for Cynthia’s young cousin Faith who has disappeared over the weekend. At first, Howie’s death seems connected to the fly fishing contest, but when Faith’s body washes up downriver, Mandy begins to suspect that the two deaths are connected, especially after evidence turns up that Faith was at the campsite where Howie was found dead. Now Mandy finds herself caught up in a whirlpool of suspects and alibis and isn’t sure where it will all lead, but becomes increasingly concerned that it will lead too close to those she loves.
Wicked Eddies is a very well-plotted mystery that weaves together Mandy’s job as a River Ranger and her business, RM Outdoor Adventures, with her personal life, including her friends from RM and her beloved Rob. Rob comes from a traditional Mexican family who are anxious to see Mandy and Rob marry, but Mandy has just gotten used to being independent and is not quite ready to make that leap. Rob is good for her, though, pushing her when she needs it (selling Uncle Bill’s house) and giving her space when necessary, supporting her through it all.
Mandy’s investigation into Howie’s life uncovers many unpleasant things about him, one very sensitive thing that is handled delicately, especially with its connection to Cynthia and the chain of events it set into motion. The Arkansas River, sometimes tame, sometimes raging, dangerous where you’d least expect it to be, provides a good backdrop and adds a bit of adventure to this intriguing mystery.
-- Jennifer Monahan Winberry