St. Martin's, Sept 2002, 23.95, 272 pp.
Usually the opening week of dear hunting season in Blanco County, Texas is a bit wild but this year things get really crazy the week before the season opens. Red O'Brien and Billy Don Craddock are poaching on the tail end of the Circle S Ranch when they spot some big dear. They shoot but one of the deer they are aiming at is a human in disguise and the other is jumping around like a kangaroo.
Game Warden John Marlin is called onto the scene and recognizes the bouncing deer as Buck who his best friend Phil Colby raised as an infant. John gives Buck back to Phil even though the deer technically belongs to the owner of the Circle S, retired but still powerful lobbyist Roy Swank. For some reason, Swank wants the deer back and will go to any length to achieve that goal no matter who gets hurt in the process.
This first installment in this new mystery series is both serious and funny, sometimes at the same time. The protagonist plays straight man to all the eccentric characters that make up the support cast, giving BUCK FEVER an almost slapstick feel at times. The story line is well developed with all the sub-plots tying seamlessly into the main tale. Ben Rehder has a distinctively refreshing and original voice, a bright new star in the mystery genre.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner