Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Something fishy in the woods
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Something fishy in the woods

Glen Young - January 5th, 2009
in the Woods

Death Roe: A Woods Cop Mystery
By Joe Heywood
Lyons Press

This time around, Grady Service might really be in the soup. Chasing suspicions that a long-time government contractor might be illegally mixing tainted salmon eggs in its caviar production, Service has alienated colleagues, irritated friends, and infuriated alleged foreign mobsters.
Service, the laconic Department of Natural Resources conservation officer protagonist of author Joe Heywood’s Woods Cop mystery series, is back in the sixth installment, “Death Roe.” Based on a case Heywood says he isn’t at liberty to further identify, “Death Roe” finds Service investigating allegations that a long-time, highly-paid, state contractor is illegally mixing salmon roe contaminated with the carcinogen Mirex with safe eggs, then selling the mixture to unsuspecting Caribbean cruise ship lines.
“When I write these books,” Heywood says, “I think it’s useful to use situations that will inform.” He says his books are regularly “based largely on real cases. Virtually nothing is invented in these books.”
Still recovering from the murders of his girlfriend and aspiring conservation officer Maridly Nantz, and his son Walter, Service again uses work both as focus and as distraction.
Navigating ever-changing territory, Service finds himself reluctantly coordinating with agents from IRS, FDA, FBI, as well as fisheries personnel from New York. He is working further outside the boundaries of his DNR confines than ever before.

The case centers on fish processor Piscova, suspected of combining contaminated Lake Ontario roe with safe Lake Michigan eggs, all at the behest of the Ukrainian mafia. When Service begins to unravel the case, he finds threads that might lead all the way to the top levels of the DNR, a development both absorbing and offensive.
Relegated to a rental house in Saranac, in mid Michigan, Service is sharing duties with a younger officer, the attractive Dani Denninger, who had known Nantz and has a propensity for sleeping in the buff. Uncomfortable working with others, Service nonetheless “likes (Denninger’s) aggressiveness.” But while she “was easy to work with…he noticed she constantly looked to him for direction.”
Denninger and Service are aided in their efforts by Zhenya Leukonovich, a Russian-born forensic accountant who also has an eye for Service, along with an eerie habit of referring to herself in the third person.
With salmon season quickly winding down in Michigan, Service and Denninger have to work swiftly to build their case. In typical Service fashion, the introverted woods cop logs long miles on the road, veering from the U.P.’s Huron Mountains, where a former “Caviar Queen” is dying of cancer, likely caused by Mirex, to Lansing’s governmental buildings, and even Anchorage, Alaska, where he meets with a former Piscova employee with a grudge.
Author Heywood has again reconstituted his winning Woods Cop formula in “Death Roe.” In addition to the new case, with unlikely villains and wild twists, Service’s personal tragedies and small triumphs outline a fully formed character.

Returning for encore performances too are Service’s fellow CO Candi McCants, Walter’s pregnant girlfriend Karlyanne, as well as Service’s longtime buddy Luticious Treebone, and even Michigan’s doppelganger governor Lorelei Timms. The combination of recognizable characters with new turns creates a believable tension, long a hallmark of Heywood’s fiction.
The author, who lives in Portage, still lights out for the U.P. regularly, as often as not riding along with real life woods cops. He believes because COs do much the same work regardless of location, he could set his tales anywhere. Using the U.P., however, means, “The setting then becomes a character in the story.” The U.P., he believes, “has a different kind of natural beauty than we have down here.”
While Heywood worries that he might have started his series with Service too old, he has already finished the next installment. Tentatively titled “Hard Green Violets,” the new story starts out with a tale nearly a century old, then fast forwards to the present.
Heywood takes the same approach to all of his writing. He writes in longhand one day, then transcribes his work the next day on computer. When he’s comfortable with the material, he submits it to his agent and waits for news of a contract with the publisher.
The formula works and Heywood says he’s already written nearly 10,000 words on what will become his eighth Woods Cop mystery. “It’s based on something I discovered about how two state agencies interact.” He’s keeping further details a secret, at least that is until Grady Service takes over the case.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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