Victoria Houston

Don't miss Victoria's latest mystery: DEAD BIG DAWG


Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD BIG DAWN            Purchase this book

Murder, She Wrote meets Fargo in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in the nineteenth “gripping, atmospheric, and smart” (T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author) installment of the Loon Lake series. 
When the bodies of a wealthy Chicago industrialist and his wife are discovered in their summer home at the same time that a local lawyer disappears, life becomes complicated for Loon Lake Chief of Police Lew Ferris.
Relying on the forensic dental expertise of her close friend and acting coroner, Doc Osborne, Lew soon finds the investigations are even more complicated than she thought when a rarely used computer belonging to a local sawmill operation is taken over by foreign hackers. Add to that the family issues facing both Lew and Doc, and this Northwoods summer becomes both hot and dangerous.
Engaging and fast-paced, Dead Big Dawg is a clever mystery perfect for fans of Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (June 11, 2019)
Language: English

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries

Dead Angler
Dead Creek
Dead Water
Dead Frenzy
Dead Hot Mama
Dead Jitterbug
Dead Boogie
Dead Madonna
Dead Hot Shot
Dead Renegade
Dead Deceiver

Dead Tease

Dead Insider
Dead Lil' Hustler
Dead Rapunzel
Dead Loudmouth
Dead Spider
Dead Firefly
Dead Big Dawg

More Information:
See my short story, "Death by Honey Hole," in HOOK, LINE & SINISTER, a collection edited by T. Jefferson Parker."
Longer Reviews and Features:
Read a review of DEAD WATER.
Read a great feature about me and the Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries. It was written by Heather Lee Schroeder who is the books editor for The Capital Times.

Dead Big Dawg Reviews
Library Journal: “There’s a strong sense of place in this descriptive story… Houston’s latest, following Dead Firefly, may appeal to Sean McCafferty’s readers, fans of fly-fishing, and wilderness mysteries. At the same time, readers who appreciate Steven F. Havill’s tales of close-knit communities may also want to try.”
Publishers Weekly: “Fans will enjoy catching up with old friends…”
Mystery Scene Magazine: “All in all, an enjoyable read indeed.”

Another great review by Judy Egner of Dallas, Texas.


Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD FIREFLY           Purchase this book

Murder She Wrote meets Fargo in the eighteenth installment of the “engaging” (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine), critically acclaimed Loon Lake mystery series.
“My wife and the CEO of my company just tried to run over me.”
Doc Osborne is startled by the unexpected words tumbling out of the mouth of a fellow AA member, a recently remarried lead accountant for an under-construction luxury fly fishing lodge preserve.
Doc tries to alert Chief Lew Ferris, but she is tied up with law enforcement teams across the state searching for thieves who have been cutting down and stealing hundreds of thousands of precious birch trees from public and private property across northern Wisconsin.
But it’s too late.
With two men dead, evidence of lakeshore properties being stolen from elderly owners, and an attempted sexual assault, short-handed Chief Ferris deputizes Doc and his skilled tracker neighbor to help with the investigation.
Just another summer in Loon Lake.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (May 19, 2018)
Language: English

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD SPIDER            Purchase this book

A lovely Sunday afternoon in late June and the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close. People are happy, kids full of ice cream and teenagers setting off firecrackers so loud no one hears the gunshot. But when the crowd thins out an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the brain has killed her much-older husband--the richest man in Wisconsin. Just as Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris gets the murder investigation underway, her good friend and deputy coroner, "Doc" Osborne, is alarmed to hear his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting. And Loon Lake's idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in Loon Lake's nursing home discover they have been robbed.

Hardcover: 209 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (May 23, 2017)
Language: English

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD LOUDMOUTH            Purchase this book

It's a bright summer morning in Loon Lake when Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris is called to the scene of a horrific accident that occurred in the dead of night at a local gentleman's club. The club is owned by one of the victims, a member of the private Deer Creek Fishing and Hunting Preserve and the scion of a wealthy Wisconsin family. When the county coroner is unavailable due to a car accident, Chief Ferris deputizes her close friend and fellow fly-fisherman, retired dentist "Doc" Osborne, to step in.

Osborne's discovery of mysterious footprints confirms Chief Ferris's suspicions: this is no accident; it's murder. Leaning on Doc Osborne for his forensic and interrogation skills, Lew also hopes to enlist the help of Ray Pradt, fishing guide and expert tracker. But Ray's time is limited as he is coaching the University of Wisconsin's fishing team in a muskie fishing tournament. Things get complicated when Doc Osborne's granddaughter disappears on the first day of the tournament. Sunny June days turn dark as a desperate search ensues.

Hardcover: 210 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (June 1, 2016)
Language: English

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD RAPUNZEL            Purchase this book

It's the dead of winter in Loon Lake when a wealthy widow is run down and killed by a logging truck on an icy street. The truck driver insists he saw a man shove the woman into the path of his truck. A lone witness who may have seen the man who shoved the victim is soon found dead--drowned in icy waters where he was ice fishing. Within hours, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris finds herself dealing with malicious family members related to dead woman, a cache of grisly paintings, and strange disturbances on the land surrounding the widow's contemporary mansion--all of which point to various people who may have wanted her dead.

Lew recruits her close friend and fellow flyfisherman, retired dentist "Doc" Osborne, for his forensic and interrogation skills. Meanwhile, Ray Pradt, ice fishing guide and expert tracker, helps with the initial investigation even as he threatens to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a key witness. Lew's life and career is further complicated when a young woman calls convinced that Lew is her birth mother. .

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (June 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN: 1440568499
ISBN13: 9781440568497

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD LIL' HUSTLER             Purchase this book

It’s mid-July in Loon Lake, and Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris has her hands full with the discovery of the skeletal remains of a missing bank executive and the murder of graduate student. To complicate matters, both victims were discovered on a hidden river deep in the national forest—a place that just so happens to be a dangerous wolf rendezvous site.

Lew recruits her close friend and fellow fly fisherman, retired dentist “Doc” Osborne for his forensic and interrogation skills. But Doc has his own set of problems to worry about: his grandson is hospitalized with a grave illness, and now Lew seems to be getting too interested in the father of the murdered student—a well-to-do widower who is teaching her the Japanese art of tenkara fly fishing.

Paperback: 206 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (June 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440568405
ISBN-13: 9781440568404

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)
Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD INSIDER             Purchase this book

During an August flood, pieces of Wisconsin candidate for U.S. Senate Jane Ericsson’s dismembered body are found wrapped in butcher paper traveling down a swollen waterway near Loon Lake, Wisconsin. With the assistance of her close friend, retired dentist Dr. Paul (Doc) Osborne, Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn (Lew) Ferris investigates as a media circus descends around them. Suspects include an environmentalist who was trying to bribe Ericsson and a longtime friend with whom Ericsson had a recent falling out. Soon another dead victim is found. With Ericsson’s campaign manager acting oddly and a large amount of money missing from the deceased’s campaign fund, Ferris and Osborne have numerous avenues to pursue before they identify the killer. 

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (June 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440533563
ISBN-13: 978-14405335634

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)
Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD TEASE               Purchase this book

A hot August afternoon and Midwest Clinic CEO John McNeil has been working late. Working on his latest conquest, that is. Jen Williams is twenty-six, in charge of graphics for the hospital's PR division—and quite attractive in a healthy, athletic kind of way. She is quick to laugh and a little too quick to fall for guys. She is no virgin. And she is one of three women—including his wife—intimately familiar with McNeil.

When Jen's youthful body is found with a single stab wound through the heart, suspicion falls on both McNeil's wife, who insists she is being stalked, and the striking hospital physician with whom he had just ended an affair. Pressure to find the killer falls on Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Lew" Ferris and Dr. Paul "Doc" Osborne, the retired dentist and forensic dental expert whom she has deputized to help with the investigation—when they are not taking a break for fishing and other personal pursuits. When the mayor demands Lew take early retirement—and Doc has to babysit his teenage granddaughter who won't stop texting—the frustrations mount.

Desperate for a few hours off—and persuaded by Ray Pradt (a fishing guide who wears a stuffed trout on his head, so they should have known better)—to try fly fishing from kayaks, Doc and Lew find themselves in life-and-death straits on the river. This leads to an unexpected and macabre discovery that just may break the case.

"Series fans will enjoy spending time with old friends." --Publishers Weekly

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (March 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440533113
ISBN-13: 978-1440533112

Dead Tease (A Loon Lake Mystery, #12)

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD DECEIVER               Purchase this book

It's late January in Loon Lake and bodies abound: a woman on snowshoes has been discovered wedged under a wooden bridge on a cross-country ski trail. A day later, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris interviews a couple who alleges that the wife, a former nun, is being stalked. Meanwhile, Loon Lake is hosting an International Ice Fishing Festival with problems.

"...Houston does an outstanding job of crafting a good plot and entangling her rural protagonists in real-life situations." --Library Journal

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935562614

Dead Deceiver (A Loon Lake Mystery, #11)
Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD RENEGADE               Purchase this book

A sunny Thursday heading into the Fourth of July and retired dentist Doc Osborne is helping his daughter, Erin, who has just opened her own legal practice. They are assisting an elderly client of Erin's reclaim an antique chest from an uncooperative antique dealer when Doc Osborne stumbles over a rug and human remains tumble onto the floor . . .

Paperback: 187 pages
Publisher: Bleak House Books (November 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606480626
ISBN-13: 978-1606480625

Dead Renegade (A Loon Lake Mystery, #10)
Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD HOT SHOT               Purchase this book

Ninth in the Loon Lake Mysteries Murder never takes a holiday . . . or so Loon Lake learns one wintry Thanksgiving Day. Chief of Police Lew Ferris, short-handed thanks to an AWOL coroner, never even gets the turkey stuffed before the bodies start to surface. By the end of the day, credit card theft and dysfunctional families have so muddied the waters that not even expert tracker and dedicated fishing guide, Ray Pradt, can hope to fish the final day of muskie season. And while retired dentist, Doc Osbornse, had counted on sitting by the fire with Lew (out of uniform) and planning a fly fishing trip to Wyoming-the unexpected arrival of Gina Palmer, former investigative reporter turned forensics database expert, ramps up the action with her pursuit of a Canadian link to the theft of merchandise from stores across the upper Midwest. Dead Hot Shot, ninth in the Loon Lake Mystery series, is a heady mix of murder, mayhem and fishing in the northwoods of Wisconsin.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (August 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1932557741
ISBN-13: 978-1932557749

Dead Hot Shot (A Loon Lake Mystery, #9)
Dead Madonna book cover

Dead Madonna book cover

DEAD MADONNA               Purchase this book

When the body of a lovely young woman is found floating beneath a party pontoon on a popular lake in northern Wisconsin on the same morning that a prominent widow is found bludgeoned in her gracious home, Loon Lake Police Chief Lew Ferris is caught short-handed.

This is not a problem for Doc Osborne whom she deputizes to act as coroner and to assist with the investigation. Fishing aside, there’s nothing Osborne likes better than helping Lew -- a world-class fly fisherman in her own right – delve into Loon Lake’s criminal underworld. They’re joined in their efforts to untangle two seemingly unrelated murders by walleye-expert, talented tracker and teller of really bad jokes, Ray Pradt.

A charming resort town on the surface, life in Loon Lake turns murky as bank officials soon discover that both victims’ accounts have been looted – along with a dozen others. One grisly development after another further links the two murders even though the victims did not know each other. Wealthy Chicagoans, visiting entrepreneurs and the young denizens of “Party Cove” complicate the scene. Whoever thought life in the Northwoods could be this dangerous?

“Gripping, atmospheric and smart…I enjoy Houston’s Loon Lake mysteries enormously.” -- T. Jefferson Parker

“Victoria Houston’s love for her Wisconsin setting – and her wonderful characters – is evident on every page of her fine series.” -- Laura Lippman

Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books (May 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440550883
ISBN-13: 978-1440550881

Dead Madonna (A Loon Lake Mystery, #8)
Cover of Dead Boogie

DEAD BOOGIE               Purchase this book

Even though experienced angler Doc Osborne knows there are plenty of fish in the sea – in Loon Lake, Wisconsin, only police chief Lew Ferris qualifies as his catch of the day. But just as the summer is heating up, the town gets turned upside down by the bizarre triple homicide discovered on a backcountry road…

Peg Garmin was not Loon Lake’s most beloved citizen. Considering her “calling” in life, no one was completely surprised when she was found murdered in the company of two exotic dancers…no one, that is, except for Ray Pradt, Peg’s dearest friend. As the team digs into the mysery of her past, they discover some startling connections to one of the wealthiest families in Chicago and to the buried secret that could destroy them. Now Lew, Osborne and Ray must root the skeletons out of the Garmin family closet before Peg’s killer becomes the one who got away….

ISBN 0-425-20895-8
paperback, 224pp
March 2006
Berkeley Prime Crime $6.99

Dead Boogie (A Loon Lake Mystery, #7)
Dead Jitterbug book cover

DEAD JITTERBUG               Purchase this book

Everyone knows the name Hope McDonald – and not just the couple thousand folks in Loon Lake. Her advice column is syndicated worldwide to about eighty million readers. When the wise old woman is found murdered in her home, Chief Lew Ferris can think of more than a few suspects – and calls on Doc Osborne for help. Since Hope was dealing with some desperate souls, Doc and Lew will have to think of the perfect bait to net a cold-blooded killer….

ISBN 0-425-20201-1
Paperback, 259pp
April 2005
Berkeley Prime Crime

Dead Jitterbug (A Loon Lake Mystery, #6)
Dead Hot Mama book cover

Dead Hot Mama  new book cover

DEAD HOT MAMA                Purchase this book

It's ice-fishing season in Loon Lake and Doc Osborne is trying to convince Police Chief and fishing pal Lew Ferris to give it a chance. But fish aren't the only things lurking below the surface. The bodies of two snowmobilers have just been pulled out of nearby Two Sisters Lake. And a beautiful woman's corpse turns up in a snowdrift. Is it payback for a drug deal gone bad? Or is it something more sinister? Osborne and Ferris once again team up to get to the bottom of a very murky mystery.

"Victoria Houston writes fishing mysteries set in the fictional Wisconsin community of Loon Lake. Her heroine is police chief who is also an ardent fly fisherman. With the help of a retired dentist, she solves murders. In Loon Lake, eccentrics are welcome, including Ray Pradt, a local guide and champion loon-caller who wears an earflap leather cap topped by an enormous stuffed trout...Her books have sold a total of more than 100,000 copies."--The Wall Street Journal

ISBN 0-425-19332-2
Paperback, 304pp
March 2004
Berkeley Prime Crime

Dead Hot Mama (A Loon Lake Mystery,#5)
Dead Frenzy book cover

Dead Frenzy  new book cover

DEAD FRENZY               Purchase this book

For fishing pals (or are they more than just pals?) Doc Osborne and Police Chief Lew Ferris, Loon Lake, Wisconsin, is usually a great place to seek out some mutual solitude in the trout stream. But lately the town has been teeming with competitive bass fishermen and bikers ­ too many less-than-savory characters. Meanwhile, there¹s an old murder case, Doc¹s bent on solving even as he himself is stalked by a mysterious visitor.

A motorcycle rally, bass fishing tournament, illicit drugs and very expensive antique fishing lures make for a dangerous mix ­ reminding Doc and Chief Ferris that the secrets of the northwoods can be hidden in places you least suspect.

"Victoria Houston's...plots and clues invariably involve fly and bait fishing. The formula works: Houston is the best-selling author down at Madison's Booked For Murder mystery bookstore."--Chicago Tribune

ISBN 0-425-18887-6
Paperback, 304pp
February 2003
Berkeley Prime Crime

Dead Frenzy (A Loon Lake Mystery, #4)
Dead Water book cover

DEAD WATER               Purchase this book -- REVIEW

While out kayaking, Paul Osborne discovers the grisly remains of a woman -- whose shoulders bear mysterious bite marks. And just as Lew begins her investigation, another body turns up...

The second victim was a successful businesswoman from Kansas City, and the evidence indicates she was in Loon Lake for a rendevous with an ex-lover -- a con man who had tried to get his hands on her money. Now, Lew's got two confusing cases -- and a killer who may be more elusive than any fish....

"(Victoria Houston) puts me right there in the Wisconsin heat and cold, lets me know what the fish are biting on, lets me spy on the interesting characters of Loon Lake, and, most of all, spins an intelligent and captivating tale. I look forward to more and more."--T. Jefferson Parker, Author of Silent Joe

"Victoria Houston's love for her Wisconsin setting-and her wonderful characters-is evident on every page of her fine series. Loon Lake is a great get-away, even if it does keep me up at nights."--Laura Lippman, Author of The Sugar House

ISBN 0-425-18003-4
Paperback, 288pp
June 2001
Berkeley Prime Crime Book

Dead Water (A Loon Lake Mystery, #3)
Dead Creek book cover

Dead Creek new book cover

DEAD CREEK                Purchase this book

Fishing aside, there's nothing Doc likes better than helping Chief of Police Lew Ferris -- a world-class fly fisherman in her own right -- delve into Loon Lake's criminal underworld. He's looking for any excuse to spend time with the only woman he knows who likes to fish as much as he does. So bloodthirsty killers and backwoods bandits be damned. Doc will take the quiet risk. But someone wants a certain piece of truth kept quiet, and dead people don't talk. Doc and Lew better watch their backs, or they won'tbe pulling in the fish -- they'll be sleeping with them ...

"Fans of a well-drawn regional police procedural will want to read this novel. All the subplots smoothly return to the main theme and there are plenty of suspects to keep the audience guessing about what is going on and who is the mastermind behind the mysterious events. With this fine novel, Victoria Houston will hook readers and make them seek her previous stories."--Painted Rock Reviews

"What a great story! A book that fishermen of all ages (and species) are sure to enjoy."--Tony Rizzo, legendary Northwoods fishing guide, Author of Secrets of a Muskie Guide

"Murder mystery muskies! The X-Files comes to Packer Land."--John Krga, dedicated Northwoods "catch-and-release" muskie fisherman

ISBN 0-425-17703-3
Paperback, 288pp
November 2000
Berkeley Prime Crime Book

Dead Creek

Dead Angler book cover

DEAD ANGLER                Purchase this book

Retired dentist Paul Osborne hasn't fly fished since his wife died. He hasn't had a woman tell him what to do since then either. But in the company of Lewellyn Ferris, he's relearning both. And when he and his lady instructor find a well-dressed body floating in the moonlight, Paul adds deputy to his list of experiences...

Whether the death is accidental -- or accidentally on purpose -- Lewellyn is determined to rell in the truth. She enlists Pail and his walleye-expert buddy, Ray, to help her get to the bottom of the murky mystery. Whoever thought small-town retirement could be this dangerous?

"Who would have thought that fly-fishing could be such fun? Victoria Houston makes you want to dash for rod and reel. (She) cleverly blends the love of the outdoors with the thrill of catching a serial killer."--The Orlando Sentinel

"As exciting as fishing a tournament-and you don't know the result until the end."--Norb Wallock, North American Walleye Anglers' 1997 Angler of the Year

"Houston introduces us to a cast of characters with whom we quickly bond-as fly-fishers and as good citizens-in the first of what I hope will be a long series."--Joan Wulff, world-class fly-caster, co-founder of the Wulff School of Fly-Fishing

"A compelling thriller populated with three-dimensional characters who reveal some of their secrets of trout fishing the dark waters of the northern forests."--Tom Wiench, dedicated fly-fisherman and member of Trout Unlimited

"Should net lots of fans; a good catch."--The Star Press

ISBN 0-425-17355-0
Paperback, 272pp
April 2000
Berkeley Prime Crime Book

Dead Angler (A Loon Lake Mystery, #1)
Restore Yourself book cover

RESTORE YOURSELF!               Purchase this book

Recent news stories have hailed the benefits of estrogen/testosterone combination therapy-but leave many questions unanswered. Written by an experienced doctor and a woman whose life has been transformed by testosterone therapy, Restore Yourself educates women on how the so-called "male" hormone can help them rekindle desire-before, during, and after menopause.

ISBN 0-425-18179-0
Paperback, 224pp
Berkeley Trade

 © 2006-2019 Victoria Houston, all rights reserved.

Last updated: June 2019.