The Trout King
Carl E. Pickhardt
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The Trout King

Carl E. Pickhardt
Cedar Fort
218 pages
July 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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C.E. Pickhardt's The Trout King starts with the following disclaimer: "This is a fishing story, so you know it can't be true." True or not, Pickhardt's tale is a page-turner.

Alexander McGregor is a self-taught mechanic and carpenter and plumber, but since he is without accredited degrees, good paying work is hard to find. McGregor, his wife and their sons arrived in a small community known as Bishop's Place with everything they owned in the bed of their truck. McGregor proved his skills to the townspeople and within weeks was working steadily. Never staying in one place too long, he is something of a rolling stone. His wife longs for the day they will settle down and grow some roots.

It seems in Bishop's Place the McGregor's may have found a place to call home. The town is settled around a fast-flowing river where people come to fish. Eight years ago the town started a summer-long fishing derby. Since the inception of the contest, McGregor has been crowned the "Trout King".

There are many layers to McGregor. He is a hard man with a drinking problem. He is tough on his boys, but spends his time passing on the trades to benefit them. He wants the best for his family, but struggles to handle his emotions. How does McGregor deal with everything? By fishing.

When a man and his family arrive in Bishop's Place for the sake of attempting to win the fishing derby, things get hairy. Sam Henry and his wife either argue all the time or don't talk at all. How does Henry handle his relationship? By fishing.

It looks as if McGregor is going to win the Trout King crown for the ninth straight year. But there is a bend in the river where the water moves too swiftly. No knowledgeable fishermen would try catching trout in the area; however, Henry's son discovers one of the largest trout alive in the waters. His find could put an end to McGregor's eight-year winning streak.

The intensity of the fishing derby is enough do drive stakes deeper into each family, forcing the natural family bond to weaken and fray. The wives have had it with their husbands, and with fishing. Is winning the derby all that important? Is it more important than saving the family from falling apart? C.E. Pickhardt has authored nine other novels, and he has a wonderful way with words. He knows how to create believable characters and exciting scenes. Though fishing is a sport of leisure, The Trout King is unnerving and intense. Entertaining and meaningful, it makes for a perfect summer read.

© 2003 by Phillip Tomasso III for Curled Up With a Good Book.

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