The Snowfly

Joseph Heywood, Author, Joseph Heywood, Concept by Lyons Press $24.95 (468p) ISBN 978-1-58574-020-8
Fly-fishing legend meets global adventure in Heywood's sparkling, ambitious third novel. At the heart of this engrossing bildungsroman is the legendary, perhaps nonexistent snowfly, whose once-a-decade breeding cycle supposedly attracts trout far bigger than most fishermen have ever seen. Narrator Bowie Rhodes overhears a remark about the snowfly when he's eight: his quest for the elusive insect lasts, off and on, for the rest of his life. He grows into a man with a natural gift for fly-fishing and sees traces of the snowfly everywhere. Working as a reporter in Vietnam, Bowie chances on a book called The Legend of the Snowfly by M.J. KeyDthen loses it during the Tet offensive. In Moscow, his hunt for the same book makes him a marked man. Bowie's peripatetic existence includes stints as a spy in a Canadian mining town, a drifter in the mountain West and a tremendously successful fly-fishing guide. At every turning point in Bowie's life, the snowfly makes another appearance; careful readers come to feel that someone or something has dangled the snowfly legend before Bowie, using it as a lure to catch him. Heywood (The Berkut) expertly plants hints of a conspiracy (library references to M.J. Key, for example, disappear almost as soon as Bowie locates them). As the reflective Bowie continues his quest, the intricate plot brings in a childhood sweetheart, a government coverup and a cameo by a world-famous author, wrapping everything up on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (where Heywood himself fishes) in a denouement as neat as any in myth. Heywood's absorbing narrative is part Tom Robbins, part David Copperfield (the Robbinsesque parts take over near the end). It's at once, and almost all the way through, a story about growing up and self-discovery, a fast-moving intercontinental romp and a good fish story, focused (as all of them are) on how people handle the one that got away. Agent, Betsy Nolan. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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