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Review: Prolific novelist Ridley Pearson uses Idaho sheriff as model in 'Killer View'

Walt Fleming, the hero of Ridley Pearson's Killer Weekend and the new Killer View, is a mild-mannered man, socially awkward, a bit out of shape, a loving if stressed father, and a soon-to-be-divorced husband.

He is also a celebrated Idaho sheriff — just like his counterpart in what passes for real life, a Sun Valley-area legend named (editors beware) Walt Femling. Really.

For this series, gazillion-selling novelist Pearson — who stays busy writing several thriller series for adults, a couple of series for young readers (The Kingdom Keepers: Disney at Dawn was just published) and standalone novels — has turned to the folks back home in Idaho, where sheep and elk mingle with the billionaires and murderous separatists, and the skies seem to be snowy all day.

If the fictional Fleming isn't fully congruent with the nonfictional Femling, who so far as we know is happily married and does not secretly lust after his part-time photographer, it is fair to assume they are more alike than not. Pearson, a friend and admirer of Femling, interviewed him for details and asked him to read along as Pearson wrote.

The latest result, Killer View, may not be sheer poetry — Pearson will never turn a phrase with, say, Lawrence Block or Donald Westlake — but it's a good read. Pearson is a pro, after all, and there's probably a useful dissertation to be written analyzing just how he keeps the reader's attention despite a hero of very modest charisma indeed.

This being an Idaho novel, the plot necessarily involves an apparent government conspiracy, a serious threat to the environment and really awful weather, as well as rape, murder and flirtation. When what appears to be an obvious yen for Walt on the part of his female photog takes a sudden left turn near the end, we know we are being set up for Killer No. 3. I'll read it.

David L. Beck is a writer and editor in St. Petersburg.

Killer View

By Ridley


G. P. Putnam's Sons, 340 pages, $24.95

Ridley Pearson will be a featured author at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 25.

Review: Prolific novelist Ridley Pearson uses Idaho sheriff as model in 'Killer View' 09/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 13, 2008 4:30am]
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